COVID-19 Contagion Curve Increases in Italy

Is the country prepared for a second wave?

COVID-19 Contagion Curve Increases in Italy

While it seems that doctors have found a fairly effective treatment system for COVID-19, so far in Italy the use of intensive care has been quite limited. Right now, the country is only at the beginning of the cold season. If the experience of China can help, it points to the fact that the peak of the virus could arrive in January-February, especially if adequate prevention measures are not taken.

Coronavirus infections probably began at this time last year in 2019 and was totally neglected for months. The reasons for a drastic preventive closure could be rooted there. If so, what remains of Italy that has not died from COVID-19, will die from an economic crisis.

From the beginning of the pandemic, which started at the end of January of this year, along with a health alarm comes the sound of an economic alarm. The real problem is that this virus-induced economic distress is attacking Italy like a body that is already drastically weakened. The government should have immediately, from January, thought of an economic recovery plan. Nine months later, there is no such plan.

Money has been distributed to actual or potential unemployed, with layoffs, and the immediate social crisis has been postponed, but this is certainly not enough. The one hundred billion euros that increased the deficit this year has disappeared into thin air, with no evidence of a positive impact on the country. At the end of this year, Italy could have a deficit on GDP of 200%, much like Japan.

Japan, however, has a super-fast railway with infrastructures that allow people to move quickly and comfortably around the archipelago and the Tokyo megalopolis. Italy, on the other hand, has only the Rome-Milan fast railway, and Rome has just two-and-a-half subway lines that now work in fits and starts.

At the end of this year, South Korea’s GDP will exceed Italy’s, albeit with a population of around 10 million fewer. About 70 years ago, at the end of the war, South Korea was among the poorest countries in the world, while 60 years ago Italy was the home of the “Italian miracle.” Asking what happened is right, but it is more urgent to ask what is happening.

And the answer to that question is this: The government has not taken any medium- to long-term initiative on the economy. It does not yet know whether or not to take the money from the Mes, and there are no plans to receive the Recovery Fund. Essentially, Italy is today faced with the horrible alternative of either dying from COVID-19 or from economic collapse.

The truth is that this second wave of the COVID-19 crisis, finds Italy faced with the same unpreparedness as the first wave and will crush the country worse than a war could.

The theoretical hope is that the current government today will start doing everything it has not done and has not been able to do up to now. Realistically, it is unlikely because it lacks internal and international trust. Who could believe this government today after it has failed all kinds of domestic and international occasions in the last two years, given that the main team of the two executives is unchanged?

It would take leaps of wits, a government of national unity, and the rapid use of elections to disrupt the cards currently at play. The right is changing rapidly, but perhaps it needs to do so much faster. Elections are in fact impossible today due to the overall COVID-19 risk and the lack of a new law implementing the new voting system.

The government of national unity, on the other hand, perhaps touches a naked nerve of power. The current majority may think: Why do I have to share the leverage of the Recovery Fund’s $200 billion with others? In the short term, the country is heading towards a moment of enormous confusion. Imposing a second lockdown will not be easy, especially given the persistent pains of the first, and there is the risk of a social crisis in the midst of a pestilence.

All this may simply be history repeating itself and has already been written about, like the bread riots in the midst of the plague in Milan 400 years ago. So, what has the country learned?

Source: F.Sisci, Italian sinologist, author and columnist who lives and works in Beijing

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