By Engelbert Pérez Maldonado
The 19 February 2020, the parents of an eighth grade section of a school in Milan, Italy, they discuss, by Whatsapp, Yes, let the students carry a cell phone for the three-day excursion in which they will visit Florence, Pisa and Lucca, three sites of abundant Renaissance culture, to be held in mid-March.
A mother comes out of tune and says: "Before being worried about carrying a phone or not, I'm worried about sending my daughter in the middle of this coronavirus ". The responses were immediate, the first, which was followed by the majority assured "calm, I tell you as an infectologist that I am, everything is under control".
The same day, after your work day, Manuel went out to buy the last souvenirs in the center of Genova that he will buy for his four brothers and his nephews on the heights of the San Salvador volcano.
That day was Wednesday and many made plans for the carnival party on the weekend, go to the disco in costume, escape from the city to the mountain, travel to Venice where the tradition of disguise and carnival is more colorful, among so many other plans.
In the afternoon, after school hours, several parents accompanied their children to the parks with their allegorical costumes and bags of confetti to throw to others.
The 20 February everything started normal. But after noon a shadow seemed to spread across Italy with the newscasts that spread the first case of COVID-19 to 60 kilometers from Milan. He was an Italian man from 38 years. 21days before a copy of Chinese tourists were discovered with the same infection in Rome, but nobody was alarmed.
This time was different, henceforth all of Italy focused its gaze on Lombardy, region where the outbreak of the virus began and the world set its eye on Italy.
In the following 24 hours, cases rose to 36, with another spotlight discovered the 21 February in a municipality of Padova, city a few kilometers from Venice. On this same date, the schoolchildren did not attend the study centers due to the carnival festival, but they would stay home for the rest of the school year.
The 22 February news broadcast the first fatality infected with COVID-19, it's about a man of 78 years. He died at the Schiavonia hospital in the city of Padova.
Between fear and the media alarming the population, the same day of the first death, Manuel and his family leave for El Salvador, where a week later they will be reported by the neighborhood to the authorities for representing a danger to society, seen that they came from Italy.
Those who waited the last hours to do their shopping in supermarkets found the shelves empty, people were bracing for a probable shortage.
On Sunday 23, the government decrees a red zone for 11 municipalities spread between the Lombardy and Veneto region, where contagions continue. The images on the news are of desolation and of police presence.
Always sunday 23, the same group of parents spread similar messages talking about the epidemic that reached Italy. The representative of the parents of the school section asks to be attentive to the following messages because it will disseminate the decision of the mayors of the metropolitan area of Milan, about continuing or stopping classes in the event of an emergency. Classes are suspended and some teachers begin to send materials online to advance the programs.
With those first days of coronavirus, the crisis of the Italian economy begins, which sees the disappearance of tourists who pass through the peninsula annually by the millions. Reservations fall apart, Hotels, restaurants, airlines, museums, and taxi drivers are directly affected, but the chain extends to all activities.
The 27 February, those infected are close to a thousand and those killed by COVID-19 are 17. An important Italian politician says that panic should not spread, while the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, states “that this city does not stop”, A similar opinion was given by the mayor of Bergamo to 50 kilometers east of the first city in mention.
The 7 of March, the infected are more than 4 thousand and the government decides to decree red zone for all Lombardy and Veneto, two days later all of Italy was red, is paralyzed, being the first western country to do so.
The sequence of events was getting worse, World Health Organization (WHO) waited until 11 March to declare a pandemic by identifying 11 countries with COVID-19 cases, and the disease continued to spread day by day.
Two weeks before the declaration of a pandemic, had started lent, penance time according to Catholic tradition, this time, It is mandatory for believers and non-believers, and not just for forty days.