Over a dozen people are dead in Italy and around 530 more sick from the coronavirus. Italian officials revealed the new details today although it was noted everything is expected to change. Via ANSA:
[T]he death toll was provisional as the Higher Health Institute was still running checks on some of those cases. The civil protection department said 305 positive cases were in Lombardy, 98 in Veneto, 97 in Emilia-Romagna, 11 in Liguria, three in Sicily, Lazio and Marche, two in Tuscany, Campania and Piedmont and one in Trentino Alto Adige and Abruzzo. Borrelli said that good news had come from Lombardy, the region hit hardest by the virus, as 37 people who contracted the disease there have recovered. The Lazio cases, a couple of Chinese tourist and an Italian researcher who was brought back from Wuhan, have all been cured too after treatment at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital for infective diseases. Two people with the virus in Sicily have also recovered.
The spread of the virus across Italy appeared to be connected with one person near Milan who didn’t even know he was sick, according to Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (via Google Translate).
At first it was thought that a returnee from Shanghai infected him. However, it has now emerged that this alleged “patient 0” is not the carrier of the coronavirus, it did not carry the virus from China, the infection did not originate from it. “Patient 1” was the carrier of the virus for three weeks without the disease breaking out. He led an active social life, including taking part in two races. He infected about twenty people without knowing that he was a danger to others.
Talk about your worst-case scenario and something straight from Hollywood. “Patient 1” later got treatment at a hospital but no one believed it was coronavirus until it was too late. Now, hundreds are infected.
It does not mean people need to live in fear about every sneeze or cough, although it’s smart to self-isolate if someone is under the weather. The BBC reported the bigger problem in Italy may not be the virus itself but how people are overreacting.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told reporters that an “infodemic” of misleading news abroad was damaging Italy’s economy and reputation. He said all the infections in Italy could be traced back to the two outbreaks in the north.
Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana put himself into self-isolation after a member of his team tested positive. On Facebook he said he and the rest of his team had tested negative so far, but would remain in quarantine for 14 days.
Italy’s tourism association Assoturismo says March accommodation bookings are down by at least €200m (£170m; $219m) because of the virus.
Di Maio also said children were going to school and not even a dozen towns were dealing with an outbreak of coronavirus. However, people living in northern Italy were told to not even bother going south which shows the government has at least a bit of concern.
There is one thing to consider in all this coronavirus panic circling the area (something Jim Geraghty touched on at National Review): age and overall health is the key factor. The elderly seem more affected by the virus, while the younger more than likely fight it off and survive. It, again, doesn’t mean you ignore being sick (if you’re sick, stay home) but this idea coronavirus is going to break down civilization is probably a little overblown.
Still pretty creepy seeing images of empty streets and fashionistas wearing designer masks in public in Italy, though.