DAY 8: Saint Patrick’s Day during Italian COVID-19 lockdown

Sardinia – an Italian island on lockdown

Saint Patrick’s Day Skype with my extended family

Today (Tuesday), is the 8th day of the national lockdown here in Italy, due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. There are now 115 confirmed cases of the virus on the island of Sardinia.

It is the 8th day of physical isolation for a lot of people. We are told not to leave the house unnecessarily, unless for food shopping, medical reasons, or for essential work.

Isolation or not though, Italians and expats alike are keeping in touch using social media, Skype, and WhatsApp, and the spirit of community is growing. The evening news is showing videos of people singing and playing music from their balconies. We know we are in lockdown, but we know we’re not alone.

The picture above this article is a picture of my family, and extended family. Of course, there are some people missing, but it doesn’t make them any less my family.

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day, is a day for celebration with friends and family back home – although a somewhat muted celebration this year, following the closure of pubs and restaurants across Ireland due to the pandemic.

From what I gather from family, friends, and the news reports back home, there is still indifference, and some resistance to a full lockdown in Ireland. People are apparently still saying things like “it’s just like the normal flu”, “the death rate is low”, “it’s just the media trying to cause panic” and “I’m young, sure I’ll be alright”. Strangely, I heard these same remarks, albeit in Italian, around three weeks ago here in Italy. It was this initial casual attitude that most likely helped the virus to spread to almost 28,000 people (as of today, March 17th) across Italy.

I’m not an expert in any field, so I will not hand out any medical advice, or pretend that I know something that you don’t – but on the daily news here in Italy, medical professionals are begging people to stay at home in order to avoid spreading COVID-19. I would rather listen to these professionals than a guy in the local pub, who knows a ‘doctor’, who says we’ll all be fine.

I am not overly afraid of the consequences of me catching the virus personally – the science says that the chances of death for someone my age is low. But that’s not what the Italian national lockdown is all about – it’s about keeping the community safe as a whole. It’s about family, friends and those people that might not be so lucky if they catch it.

Italy is not a perfect country by any means – its’ faults and failures are well known. But I can say I feel safer living in a country where the people are taking the threat seriously. A few days ago, the Italian government put a hold on mortgage payments, and temporarily suspended all household bills. They are now apparently looking at ways to provide funds to people struggling financially. All of this is from a country that never fully recovered after the global financial collapse of 2008.

Maybe we will all suffer financially in the short term. Maybe there are still hard times ahead as a direct result of this pandemic. There’s one thing I know for certain though – this is a moment that will be remembered for years.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be part of the generation that decided to stay at home for a few weeks, all in order for someone else’s sick or elderly grandparents, parents, friends, or relatives, to stay alive.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from Sardinia. #DistantiMaUniti – Distant but united.

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