Currently, Italy ranks as the country third-most affected by the coronavirus. Within a very short period, a very serious and – to some extent, unexpected – situation has occurred. Since a small number of infected, mainly from China, was quarantined in Rome last month, the number of those hospitalized has dramatically increased – and in the last week, rather rapidly.
Unfortunately, deaths have escalated to the point that today Italy is the first country for numbers of infections outside the Asia region. As the virus spreads, measures have been taken by other states to contain the risk of contagion. Most recently, Turkey decided to halt all flights to and from Italy as one such preventive move.
However, what Italy is experiencing is a particularly unlucky situation as the epidemic triggered in the hospitals, which has played as a contagion amplifier. Therefore, current scientific efforts are mainly focused on understanding what has happened, how the infection has spread and how it will eventually develop.
The most affected areas include the northern regions, particularly Lombardy and Veneto, as the epicenter of the pandemic and related panic attitudes. As trade and business hubs, it is possible to speculate that both regions have been hit due to their being the most exposed to commercial and economic exchanges with China. Hence, while the number of victims increases day by day, the Italian authorities have decided to quarantine more than 50,000 people in 10 Lombard cities over areas recording the highest number of cases. Schools, universities, churches and several recreational and productive activities have been closed down.
Without doubt, all of this has had a serious impact on the Milan stock exchange, which has fallen by almost four points since the eruption of the crisis, as well as the Italian economy as a whole, which was already in crisis. In Italy, as anywhere in the world, the priority is to find a cure. We are indeed facing a global scale crisis that requires joint efforts to contain further social and economic damages.
Although there are many rumors and guesses on why Italy is the most affected country in Europe, the most convincing explanations follow the principle of "seek and ye shall find." In a nutshell, this is somewhat the thought of virologists. Indeed, top experts agree that the contagion exploded in Italy as the combined outcome of factors such as a lack of tests, a rate of contagion in hospitals and a number of key flights from China.
*Assistant professor at University of Turkish Aeronautical Association, Ankara
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