I have followed the coronavirus crisis since the beginning through newspapers and television. Honestly, I was not concerned about the possibility that the coronavirus would have arrived in Europe. It seemed like a problem only in China, something very far from us. Similar to the swine flu from some years ago. Nobody imagined we would be engulfed in a pandemic in just a few short weeks. Even the virologists in Italy were telling the people not to panic and that the problem was not here.
However, by the end of February Italy had the first cases in Milano. At this point the Italian people split into two categories: on one side there were the individuals who were extremely concerned, on the other side there were people convinced that this was a plot against Italy and it was only a simple flu. Personally, I was in the middle: I knew that it was not just a flu – I knew that it was something more, but I did not believe that all that panic that I saw was appropriate. Within a few weeks we were in a complete lockdown. It was horrible. The first days were very sad, all the streets empty, everyone wearing masks and gloves: it seemed like a sci-fi movie.
The latest studies have shown that the coronavirus was present in Italy since November 2019 which I find very interesting. It is pretty strange to think that our “enemy” was among us before we even knew it.
After the first cases in Italy, the rest of the European countries did not expect a similar situation. A former ICAP client who moved to France after the recognition of the italian citizenship, sent me a message in March 2020, asking about what was happening in Italy. I told him that the situation was serious and that I was afraid that in a couple weeks France and all other european countries would be in the same situation. He did not believe me and told me France would have never experienced a pandemic like in Italy. However, within 2 to 3 weeks France, Germany, Spain, and the UK were all in complete lockdown. That just goes to show how underestimated the problem really was.
So many things, big and small, have changed because of the pandemic. I can sum it up in one point: the ability to schedule our lives has been taken away from us. The situation is constantly changing and our time is so uncertain. This makes our economy weak and more fragile than ever before. Many people are losing their jobs and their future appears bleak. Tourism is an essential part of our economy, and restaurants, bars, stores and museums are still not fully open in Italy. Also our private lives have changed substantially. The pandemic changed relationships between people; the physical contact, which is so important for us human beings, has become something scary and dangerous.
Certainly, there is one lesson we have learned, before the pandemic of 2020, despite our personal problems, despite the struggle of daily life, we were happy. We were happy and we didn’t know it.
After one year people are exhausted, but now we can see the end of this nightmare. The vaccine makes us more hopeful, but we must keep all the security measures: we will have our life back soon, but we must keep fighting!