A street in Milan appeared desolate, with schools closed and most businesses operating on reduced levels
Photo: Dr Lilani Abeywickrama
Luxembourger and Delano contributer Dr Lilani Abeywickrama, currently based in Milan, shares her images and thoughts on the eerie silence as the city has been under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
As I write this, the coronavirus had made over 300 patients its victims in Italy alone, with nearly a dozen deaths, the hardest hit country in Europe. At the epicentre of the outbreak is northern Italy. Towns in the region of Veneto remain under the guarded isolation, while the media reports on a ghost-like Milan with people quarantined in their homes. A more accurate portrayal of the current situation is that of critically ill residents and close contacts in secure hospitals, while the Milanese have taken the situation in their stride.
Monday morning’s silence was a very unusual experience for Milan. With schools closed and most restaurants operating under a reduced schedule the streets appear desolate. Public transport understandably sees less commuters as the Italian Ministry of Health warned against congregating within confined spaces. Teleworking has been mandated by most offices here and with cinemas, gyms and universities on lockdown until March 2nd (tentatively) it seems logical to see less movement in the city. The weekend surge of panicked shoppers for basic supplies and surgical masks has left some supermarkets and pharmacies out of stock--but nothing that shouldn’t be replenished this week.
Photo: Lilani Abeywickrama
This said, the coronavirus has not deterred Milanese families from bringing their children to parks or omitting their morning ritual of “brioche e café” locally. Despite curfews for bars and nightclubs, there is an air of resilience in the city. The Italian government has been very quick to respond to this crisis, appropriate measures have been taken and the citizens have been careful and rational to take heed of warnings. Italy has the highest number of cases in Europe currently; however, it is also one of the few countries actively seeking out cases and performing extended contact tracing to contain a potential pandemic. The overlapping timing of this epidemic, alongside common influenza, further skews the data due to misdiagnosis in the rest of Europe, therefore leading to underreporting.
As the coronavirus outbreak has not yet reached its peak, it remains to be seen how long these measures will be adhered to and how larger metropolises such as London and Paris will react to a similar impending scenario.
Dr Lilani Abeywickrama is a Luxembourger ophthalmologist currently based in Milan. Her main interest is advocating healthy living and precision technology within her specialty and is pursuing her interests in the field of healthcare management.