Italy has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 after China by reporting a mortality rate of over 9 percent. Italy reported its first case on the 29th of January and immediately canceled flights from China. While many scientists argue that Italy practically did nothing wrong as it is a case of chance and Italy’s large population of elderly, there are certain lessons India needs to borrow from Italy.
1. Intense Testing
While the first case was reported on January 29th, many experts believe that the virus had already been floating since the middle of the month. A large number of initial confirmed cases in Italy had no symptoms or to an extent mild symptoms.
Up until last week, India was testing only those who had shown symptoms and had a travel history or in contact with the confirmed person. It is only from week 3 that India has begun testing asymptomatic patients. Having lost two weeks already, India needs to test more.
2. Pneumonia cases should be tested
In the regions where the outbreak was witnessed, there had been an unusually high number of suspected pneumonia cases a month before the outbreak. While not all of them were confirmed cases of COVID-19, it has raised an alarm in the minds of the experts.
India should take a clue and test pneumonia cases to be on the safer side.
3. Dedicated Health Policies to find coronavirus
When experts were asked about the mistakes Italy made in handling the outbreak that has practically slipped out of caution zone now, one thing that was evidently mentioned was the lack of health policies dedicated to finding coronavirus.
Various state governments have announced certain plans but the implementation and the escalation will become necessary.
4. Lack of Strict Lockdowns
On February 23rd, twenty days after the first confirmed case, Italy locked 11 towns with reasonable restrictions on bars and restaurants.
India, on the other hand, has completely locked the country down after 20 days of the second wave of coronavirus outbreak.
5. Health Services reacting quickly
Italy is one of the top countries to have a well-designed robust healthcare system. As soon as the situation escalated, the health services reacted instantly and since then have been working relentlessly. Despite that, Italy has reported an overwhelming number of death and even a war-like situation at the hospital.
India, although isn’t as advanced as Italy, has a concentrated private sector that is always preferred by the public. With coronavirus outbreak, the government hospitals, less in number, have stepped up to the task while the private sector is yet to join in.
6. Choosing between economy and healthcare
Italy’s already ailing economy was further hit by the outbreak. It reached a point where the authorities had to choose between saving the economy and putting the economy at risk to focus on healthcare. The authorities tried to keep their feet in both the boats further worsening the situation.
India will reach that point. Not as of yet but very soon. India’s economy was on the downside too. The choice will be difficult but for a country of a staggering population like ours, if timely measures are implemented, the economy can be revived. India should restrict itself to push its younger generation into psychological trauma.
7. Relaxation of the Ban
Three days after the lockdown was imposed in the 11 towns, since the cases reduced, A mayor of a town relaxed imposition on restaurants and bars dismissing COVID-19 as “just more than flu.” The number of cases shot up soon after.
The lockdown in India for a period of 21 days, irrespective of its success, should be relaxed gauging the situation sensitively. Even then, only a gradual relaxation seems right.
8. Negligence of Authorities
The authorities in Italy, the mayors, and the respective personnel dismissed COVID-19 pretty soon without analyzing the intensity it had hit China. The negligence of the authorities trickled down to people which in turn made it easier for the virus to spread.
In India, it is our leaders and the constant misinformation on Whatsapp. While there were people advising ‘gau mutra’, Unani medicine and homeopathy, Whatsapp stuck to vibrations. Misinformation leads to negligence that in turn will have an adverse effect.
9. Hospitals becoming war-zones
Despite the measures taken, the doctors at the forefront had to make an unfortunate decision of choosing who will live and who will die. This happened with a steep increase in cases and hospitals running out of beds and equipment.
This is a situation that is quite possible in a country of a billion and that is precisely what we need to avoid.
10. Social distancing
Even when there were a thousand cases, people of Italy were on the streets carrying on with their life. The lack of awareness and not abiding by the rules laid out by the government made them pay a huge price.
Indians, as experts believe, still has time. India needs to practice social distancing. India can avoid becoming Italy. The next 21 days is a crucial testing time for the nation.