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Chronicle: "What scares the most is the growing panic"


Milan. Fear, worry and frustration. It is the emotions that prevail in corona-affected Italy as the virus spreads.

Italian media tops sites and news broadcasts with the news that several children in the most affected area are infected, which contributes to increasing fear. A four-year-old girl from one of the isolated villages, Castiglione d'Adda, is among the infected. Several other children are being cared for in hospitals in Pavia and Bergamo.

I watch my TV here at the hotel in Milan, where my photographer and I are some of the few guests - cancellations have been many. The atmosphere is almost ghostly desolate in the breakfast room and lobby. In the TV channel Rai 1, viewers can call and ask questions in a program. I hear the fear and panic of those who are now almost crying out their questions about their children, about the risks of the ones you love most of all getting sick.

Men to calm down

Experts and Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte urge to calm down and remind us of the low risks to the majority of the population, not least children and young people. But when the fear has people in their grasp, fewer and fewer listen.

A few miles from Milan, where I am located, are the ten isolated small communities, here in Lombardy, in northern Italy. In the Veneto region, a village, Vò, is in quarantine. At the same time, the infection is now in Tuscany, Liguria and right down in Sicily, in the south.

Many regions want ID checks for people traveling from the most affected areas, but this is practically impossible.

We experience the very fear here, my photographer Domenico and I, when the colleagues at the TV office in Rome, express their concern that we may be contagious when we return to the capital.

A deserted Milan

In the deserted streets of Milan, the fashionable Milanese stroll around in their elegant clothes but many wear face masks. The Piazza Duomo is deserted and the verdict is closed to all but the one who wants to ask higher powers for help in these times of trial. A man we interviewed for Report said it felt like we were living in "the time of the plague". His friend avoids grabbing and kissing, which is otherwise customary here, and no longer goes underground.

We take a late morning cappuccino and I talk to a stated bar owner who has to close every night at 18 and miss the whole evening rush and make big losses every day. Small owners and employees of hotels, restaurants and bars are becoming increasingly desperate and in the tourism industry, concerns about both Italy as a tourist country and individual businesses are great.

All gyms, schools, universities, libraries, cinemas, theaters and museums here are closed. Football matches and sports events canceled.

"The feeling of unreality is strong"

Many, both in Milan and the rest of Italy, express rising anger, the Italians are not the ones who are silent. More and more people feel that the government is causing unnecessary panic for a flu virus. Others believe that those responsible should have done much more, much earlier. The stock market is collapsing and the financial consequences of an already scarred Italy can be very large.

We walk on empty streets and meet people's eyes, many seekers, worried. The contrast with the crowded city's usual congestion and noise is strong.

Still, we feel pretty calm, reminding us that no war is going on, no plague is raging. What scares the most, all the more, is the growing panic, people turning to each other. Looking obliquely at someone who sneezes or coughs, neighbors who avoid each other, all those we now notice prefer not to meet us when we return from Milan.

It is important to keep calm

Being scared is human but often dangerous. Keeping calm is a way, by extension, to safeguard our civilized way of life, to protect one another and not to see one another as an enemy and infectious heart.

So we decide on a pasta lunch in town between the jobs. To allow everyday life to prevail and to support the restaurant owner who stands at his empty tables with an empty look.

Source: svt

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