An Edmonton woman living in Italy said the mood is “surreal” after the Italian government imposed a travel lockdown on the entire country amid coronavirus fears.
The Italian government is hoping the measure will stem the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 10,000 people and killed more than 600 in that country as of March 10. The move mimics a similar measure imposed by the Chinese government on cities in Central China as the outbreak started to worsen.
The contagion came to light near Italy‘s financial capital Milan on Feb. 21.
Italy‘s 60 million people will now only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until April 3. All schools and universities, which were closed nationwide last week until March 15, will now not reopen before next month.
Jasmine Mah has been living in Bergamo, in the Lombardy region, for five years. She is originally from Edmonton.
“The mood is just very surreal. Everything is very quiet, except for… ambulances going by. It’s just a very — almost creepy — feeling,” she said.
“Honestly I know people have been comparing it to being in a movie but it’s like being in a movie.”
As a result of the lockdown, Mah and her husband are now both working from home.
“We’re basically now just trying to stay at home as much as possible. So only going out for essential things. For us, luckily we’re young, we don’t have to go to the pharmacy for anything. It’s just for groceries,” she said.
Mah said the days pass by quickly.
“I’m a teacher and technology is great. I’ve been able to fill my days working, doing online lessons, interacting with students,” she said.
Her husband’s family lives roughly 10 minutes away.
“We go grocery shopping or we go there or they come here. Those are the only people we really interact with. The concern is, though, that they’re older right? I think that is one of the bigger concerns – safeguarding the population that’s a little bit older,” she said.
Mah, who has a degree in pharmacy but is now working as a teacher, said the change in attitude in Italians in recent days has been black and white.
“I have to say, I was worried in the beginning, because I saw the general population here were very unconcerned,” she said.
“It was almost the butt of jokes. No one believed this kind of thing could happen. It’s become something so much different than what everyone thought.”
Mah said she isn’t concerned about contracting the virus herself but is worried about her city, region and the world in general.
“Italy is home. I don’t feel like I’m in danger at all. I just feel, as long as everyone does their civic responsibility, follow the government guidelines, that we will get out of this,” she said.
Internationally, Italy increasingly found itself sealed off as countries elsewhere in Europe and farther afield sought to keep infections contained.
Malta and Spain announced a ban on air traffic from Italy. Malta turned away another cruise ship and British Airways cancelled flights to the whole country. Austria barred travellers from crossing the border without a medical certificate. Britain, Ireland, Hong Kong and Germany strengthened travel advisories or flat-out urged their citizens to leave. Even the Vatican erected a new barricade at the edge of St. Peter’s Square.
–with files from the Associated Press and Reuters