Italy returns to lockdown a year after COVID-19 outbreak

A man walks his dog near the Colosseum on the second day of lockdown, as the country struggles to reduce the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Rome, Italy, March 16, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

PADOVA, Italy -- One year after northern Italy was first locked down amid the COVID-19 outbreak, most regions in the country are reimposing restrictions to curb a resurgence of the virus, closing down non-essential shops and reducing the movement of people.

Since Monday, 10 populous regions and the Autonomous Province of Trento have been labelled as high-risk "red zones." The containment measures will last until Easter in early April.

In northern Italy's Veneto region, 1,901 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday alone, with the number of patients hospitalized or in intensive care units also on the rise.

Regional President Luca Zaia is concerned about the deteriorating situation, and told a regular press conference that "the alarming growth of cases is confirmed by both swab tests and hospitalizations."

"In this scenario, we will need to activate the COVID hospitals again, and we foresee a difficult situation for at least two weeks," he said.

On pedestrian shopping streets in the region, fashion shops were shut down, while patrolling police persuaded passers-by to return home. Like last year, pedestrians have to justify why they are outside and where they are going -- any infringement of the anti-virus rules will be punished with a fine of at least 400 euros (476 U.S. dollars).

Compared to the first lockdown in March 2020, people have a different feeling about COVID-19 restrictions this time.

"Last year everyone was shocked, afraid. You didn't understand what was going on, the perception of the intensity of the virus," said Andrea Bedorin, a communications consultant in Italy.

"Now you know more or less what is going on. We are equipped with masks, with devices, with supply of gel; hospitals know the procedures that they have to undertake," he added.

However, Bedorin said he senses the fatigue among Italians in the fight against COVID-19, who are further frustrated that the ongoing vaccination campaign in Italy has lagged behind that in Britain.

"You can feel the fatigue, because you don't see the end of this nightmare, I can say, because it seems there is no end at all. Also mentally you don't reach a level where you can plan the future months," he said.

Taxi driver Moreno Cabbia said he does not understand why the country is returning to a critical situation despite its one-year fight against the pandemic. "I see that many countries in a good condition were in lockdown for a longer period than what we did in Italy. In this regard, I still don't know what is the best solution."

As an essential worker exempted from the restriction measures, Cabbia said it is important to keep spirits high and be optimistic. "It is already good that we haven't been infected. We have to think positive, otherwise we will all end up at the psychologist's."

Meanwhile, anthropologist Laura Longo believes people are more scared today compared to last year.

"They are more desperate and after one year the problem is still there," she said, adding that the authorities should have implemented a lockdown as early as October to stop the fast-spreading virus and the growth of new strains.

"We are not ahead of the game. We are behind the game and this game is not in our hands," she said.

Regarding the fact that some people keep defying the containment rules, Longo said she believes there is a form of "provocation" in the younger generations, who only a few days earlier frequented bars and went shopping.

"I see there is a lack of understanding of the problem. There are people who realize the gravity of the situation and others who do not," she said.

Speaking about the public health strategies in such Asian countries as China, Longo said, "according to the news and data coming from Asia, their approach, in the fight against the virus, was more effective, so the real issue is to apply that model here."

2021年3月16日,意大利罗马,在封锁的第二天,一名男子在斗兽场附近遛狗,因为该国正在努力减少冠状病毒(新冠肺炎)感染。[图片/机构]意大利帕多瓦——在新冠肺炎疫情爆发期间,意大利北部首次被封锁一年后,该国大多数地区重新实施限制措施,以遏制病毒的死灰复燃,关闭非必要的商店,减少人员流动。自周一以来,10个人口稠密的地区和特伦托自治省被贴上了高风险“红区”的标签。遏制措施将持续到4月初的复活节。在意大利北部的威尼托地区,仅周二一天就确诊了1901例新病例,住院或重症监护病房的患者数量也在增加。该地区总统卢卡·扎亚(Luca Zaia)对不断恶化的局势感到担忧,并在例行记者会上表示,“拭子检查和住院治疗都证实了病例的惊人增长。”“在这种情况下,我们需要再次启动COVID医院,我们预计至少两周内会出现困难局面,”他说。在该地区的步行街上,时装商店被关闭,而巡逻的警察说服路人回家。像去年一样,行人必须证明他们为什么在外面以及他们要去哪里——任何违反反病毒规则的行为都将被处以至少400欧元(476美元)的罚款。与2020年3月的第一次封锁相比,这次人们对新冠肺炎的限制有了不同的感受。“去年每个人都感到震惊、害怕。你不知道发生了什么,也不知道病毒的强度,”意大利通讯顾问安德里亚·贝多林说。“现在你多少知道是怎么回事了。我们配有口罩,配有器械,配有供应凝胶;医院知道他们必须采取的程序。然而,贝多林说,他感觉到意大利人在与新冠肺炎的战斗中感到疲劳,他们对意大利正在进行的疫苗接种运动落后于英国感到进一步沮丧。“你能感觉到疲劳,因为你看不到这场噩梦的结束,我可以说,因为它似乎根本没有结束。他说:“在精神上,你也没有达到可以计划未来几个月的水平。出租车司机莫雷诺·卡比亚(Moreno Cabbia)说,他不明白为什么这个国家在与这种流行病进行了一年的斗争后,却回到了危急的境地。“我看到许多状况良好的国家被封锁的时间比我们在意大利被封锁的时间还要长。在这方面,我还是不知道什么是最好的解决办法。”作为一名免于限制措施的必要工作人员,卡比亚说,保持高昂的情绪和乐观是很重要的。“我们没有被感染已经很好了。我们必须积极思考,否则我们最终都会去心理医生那里。”与此同时,人类学家劳拉·隆戈认为,与去年相比,今天的人们更加恐惧。“他们更加绝望,一年后问题仍然存在,”她说,并补充说当局应该早在10月份实施封锁,以阻止病毒的快速传播和新菌株的增长。“我们并没有领先于游戏。我们是这场比赛的幕后黑手,这场比赛不在我们手中,”她说。关于一些人一直无视遏制规则的事实,隆戈说,她认为年轻一代中存在一种“挑衅”的形式,就在几天前,他们还经常去酒吧购物。“我看对这个问题缺乏了解。有人意识到了形势的严重性,也有人意识不到,”她说。谈到中国等亚洲国家的公共卫生战略时,隆戈说,“根据来自亚洲的新闻和数据,他们在对抗病毒方面的方法更有效,所以真正的问题是在这里应用这一模型。”




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