After two-months of lockdown, Italy looks to the new normal cautiously while trying to recover its economy with some help from the EU.
As the Europe’s hardest-hit country in terms of death toll, after the UK, Italy paid a heavy price, as a total of 33,689 people lost their lives due to COVID-19 outbreak.
As of June 5, over 234,000 people have been infected with novel coronavirus since the first cases were reported late January.
First case in January
On January 30, Italy reported its first confirmed coronavirus cases when two Chinese citizens hospitalized earlier in the week in Rome. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Giuseppe Ippolito made the announcement at a press conference.
The novel coronavirus fast turned into an outbreak in the country on Feb 21, when a cluster of cases were reported, and two people lost their lives on February 22. After this date, the number of cases throughout the country quickly soared, and the country went into quarantine.
On March 8, when coronavirus claimed 233 lives and the country saw more than 5,000 cases, Italian PM Conte announced a quarantine in 14 provinces as well as the northern Lombardy region – where 16 million people or about a quarter of the country's population lived – to prevent further spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Right after this decision, people started to migrate from north to south, which resulted in further spread of the virus throughout the country.
Italian government later decided to brought thigh measures across the country. PM Conte announced strict measures, including travel restrictions and curfew. All commercial activities were stopped during this period.
But, despite the measures, the number of cases and death toll continued to rise.
Lombardy, the epicentre
The regions in the north, such as Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, were most affected by the pandemic.
As of June 4, over 16,000 deaths were recorded in Lombardy, while the figure in Emilia-Romagna was 4,154 and in Piedmont 3,910.
People's non-compliance with lockdown measures was among the reasons why Lombardy was hit hardest. Young people’s, who don’t show symptoms, visited the elderly and the situation of the nursing homes made the contagion grow further.
Many also suggest that UEFA Champions League match between Valencia and Atalanta played in Milan on Feb. 19 contributed greatly to virus spread in both Italy and Spain. Some 40,000 fans were possibly exchanged the virus when travelling from one city to another.
Shortages of medical supplies in the country and overwhelmed intensive care units are also among the reasons why the death toll was high.
Steps towards normalization
As the country has seen a big drop in figures as of the mid-April, some steps towards normalization was taken.
PM Conte announced on May 4 that the county would shift to “second phase”, where it will reopen its economy.
On May 4, more than 4,5 million workers in manufacturing and construction industries returned to work.
On May 8, citizens and businesses restarted a more regular life, as restaurants, bars and shops reopened their doors, after two-months of lockdown.
On June 3, Italy removed the domestic travel restriction and reopened its borders to EU countries.
Virus mortality rate
According to Italy's Higher Health Institute (ISS), the mortality rate of novel coronavirus in the country was recorded at 13.8 as of June 3.
Over 95 percent of the deaths were among the people aged 60 while 40 percent of them were between ages 80-89.
This interpreted by many as “We lost the generation that saw the WW2”, or “We lost the country’s memory”.
Italy eyes EU support to recover
Italy’s economy was hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Commission unveiled its €750-billion ($823 billion) recovery fund aimed at helping the economically weaker EU countries face the coronavirus emergency and its painful economic consequences.
Italy hopes to get €172.7 billion in funds, which it’ll use to recover its economy.
The country also aims to see the recovery in its tourism sector as it’s reopened its borders to attract European tourists to the country.
* writing and contributions by Iclal Turan in Ankara