Sapienza University of Rome
Anant Shukla with Alankrit Mittal from Rome
I have never dreamt that our life could change so much in upcoming weeks, when the corona outbreak took place in Rome on 31st January. Still, it feels like a nightmare, I am locked inside my room from less than one month but it feels more than a year. When all guys were horrified and wanted to go back to India, I was calm because we have been safely quarantined in a neat and tidy place. Later, India government announced that citizens who want to travel back to India needs to get a covid-19 negative certificate, that was the time I made my mind that I would not go, not because I was not scared or I was too strong but I knew that if situation can get worse in a country like Italy with less population and best medical facilities, they are struggling to control the situation, so my country can face worst situations and crisis, if it gets viral in India. I tried my best to make all India citizens understand that it is better to stay here rather than going back to country but it could not make a massive difference.
Anant Shukla in his hostel Room in Rome
A week later, a team of doctors from India travelled all the way to Italy and they took samples of all Indian citizens and later evacuated everybody back to India. Even my parents were scared and worried for me, they kept asking and pressurizing me to come back and it was very tough for me to make them understand, but slowly they tried to understand my reasons and eventually when my video got viral in Indian media, they got fully convinced, they valued and appreciated my thoughts. Furthermore, citizens of my country understood the criticality of situation and how important it is to maintain the social distance with people and keep yourself isolated and if you follow orders given by the government, the consequences could be disastrous and terrible.
It all started in Italy when a 38-year-old man in Lombardy region went to a hospital reporting fever and as his situation started getting poorer in couple of days, doctors randomly tested him for covid-19 and the result was positive, later when the roots of the virus was investigated, doctors came to know from his wife that, he met one of his friends who just came back from China. By the time it was discovered that the men is positive, he ended up infecting 14 people in the hospital who further infected more and it was a kind of transmission chain which is still going on. He is called as the corona patient-1 but in a pragmatic way he is patient-200 because by the time the virus was discovered, he already infected over 200 people in Lombardy.
Italy did some major blunders in their fight against Covid-19. Initially, everyone was very complicit including the PM who when enquired whether Milan and Lombardy will have lockdown similar to Wuhan replied, ‘Milan never stops’ which provoked the citizens to act even more irresponsibly. But as the number of cases started elevating exponentially the government panicked, they lockdown the entire region of Northern Lombardy and started testing every single citizen which ended up scaring people and they started rushing to their home which further infected the whole country.
As the number of cases rose heavily, soon after the health care system of Italy, which is among the best in the world and a matter of pride for every Italian, started collapsing. The lack of ventilators, masks, protective suits etc., were so acute that they started giving preference to the patients with best chances of survival. Also, the lack of protective suits for health care workers resulted in more than 4000 of them being tested positive and they themselves ended up becoming the transmitters of the virus.
But I personally believe that by the time the Italian government lockdown the entire country, the number of cases crossed 5000, they did not make the decision on the right time and citizens lacked a sense of collective responsibility which ruined the situation in whole country.
Now, number of cases are above 80,000, still I read incidents about irresponsible behavior of people who are going out without a genuine and solid reason. I think at this point of time we can’t afford our county to suffer just because of the lack of understanding of few people. Therefore, government need to impose more strict laws and check on people, like in India.
India and other countries should learn few very important lessons from Italy. Firstly, we need a proper strategy to track every patient and identify whom to test in every single society. Secondly, we need to ramp up production of all the medical equipment and antibiotics that may be required. Thirdly, we need to prepare facilities to test large number of samples and to treat and isolate the ones who end up being tested positive. Fourth, since India have huge population of poor people the government will have to distribute hand sanitizers, gloves and mask. Lastly, we need to restrict travel among people while making sure they do not panic.
I, myself along with few other friends decided not to go back to our respective countries, as it is perilous to travel and possibly transmitting it to others. Learning from our experience in Italy, we would like to advise that it’s the younger people who should be very cautious as they can also be contagious without showing any symptoms, and can end up infecting the elders and children of their house for whom it could turn very fatal. . I am from Indore which is located in central part of India, I have a companion who lives in my residence. His name is Alankrit Mittal and he belongs to Chhatarpur district of India. He also invested his thoughts in this article. We live in a residence of Laziodisco, after the corona outbreak we have had to follow some mandatory rules, safety measures given by the administration. We have been provided free sanitizer from our hostel, and its kept right in front of reception, so we need to use it all the time. Few weeks before our administration locked all the common places of residence like libraries, table tennis room, other play rooms, at that time I felt that our administration is making our life more miserable, but slowly I understood the reason behind the action.
We cry for holidays during our busy schedule, so why are we crying now during holidays, why can’t we take this emergency as holidays to spend quality time with our family and to have a peace of mind. Certainly, thinking in this way would not change the current situation but at least it can give us positivity, power and belief to overcome this situation together.