With Italian cases of coronavirus surpassing 800 on Friday and 21 dead, life inside northern Italy's so-called 'red zone' has 'taken on a surreal air,' according to the Washington Post.
With 50,000 people under a quarantine 40 miles southeast of Milan - stretching across 11 villages and towns - a network of dozens of roadblocks are operated by the police and army in order to keep residents from traveling, and prohibit visitors from entering. The situation has caused residents obvious distress.
“We’re all going to get it,” said 22-year-old Claudi Ghidoni, sitting at a plastic table with two friends, the first time she said she’s been out of the house since Italian cases of covid-19 dramatically jumped last week. -WaPo
Disturbingly, however, the Post notes that the checkpoints "have become handover points with the outside world. Some come to give their relatives or friends gifts of cheese, other hand over documents caught up on the other side. A woman comes to collect specialist cat food dropped off by a friend."
The Post interviewed 20 residents inside the quarantine zone by phone or across roadside checkpoints, some of whom said that the initial panic had morphed into ongoing concern and confusion.
In San Fiorano village, the mayor announced three elderly deaths from coronavirus but that he's unable to find out how many people in the village have tested positive. He added that with funerals and burials suspended, the dead are still awaiting proper burials.
Only the most necessary stores, like pharmacies and supermarkets, remain open and have limits on the number of customers that can enter at a time. Residents are asked to avoid gatherings and crowds.
With post offices closed, the elderly are unable to pick up their pensions.
“Everyone struggles,” said Mario Ghidelli, the San Fiorano mayor, saying other mayors are frustrated with the level of information they were receiving. “We need to give answers to our citizens.”
He said that last blessings were given for the three residents who died, all over the age of 69, in the presence of a few family members, but the coffins had to be placed in a municipal crypt until undertakers are available. -WaPo
"People are getting a little crazy," said 49-year-old Guiseppe Malusardi as he rode his bicycle past a police checkpoint in the village of Casalpusterlengo. "Everything's closed."
Still, some Italians are making the best of the situation.
"It’s fantastic," said 54-yeawr-old Ambrogio Pezzi as he walked along with his golden retriever - adding that he's enjoyed the two-week break from his dentistry work and more time with his family. "We are like hamsters in a wheel, running around and around and not realizing we are always running in the same spot. Maybe this is a lesson to slow down and enjoy things."
Read the rest of the report here.