How dangerous is the Corona Virus?
Covid-19 is deadly, although fatality rates skyrocket for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Anyway, I am Italian and I may have the virus, so I think I can be of help. You need to prepare.
Be prepared by absorbing as much information as you can. Learn from us. What’s the real problem here, mortality rate? Nope, it’s the possibility of healthcare collapse due to too many cases at the same time. If you can avoid that, then you’re really fine, because the rate of survival of people with no pre-existing conditions who end up in intensive care should be decent. Recovery is slow, though, and that’s why available reception capacity is so vital.
Next point, authority. Even if you didn’t vote for them, like I didn’t, right now learn to trust the government if they’re taking action. It’s not because they’re more intelligent or more prepared than you, certainly, but they are the only people with access to all of the available information. Knowledge is power, now more than ever. We are able to evaluate and predict the effect of the measures, so there’s a reason they’ve been taken. Try to set aside political differences as much as possible right now. They’re of no help whatsoever. There will be plenty of time to assign blame if you wish, but this is an emergency.
Next point, quarantine. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t break it for no reason. Statistics are very very clear here, the fastest possible way to break the exponential growth and start to see the logistic slow-down is to avoid any social contact. That way, the possibility of infected people spreading the disease is minimal. Since we’re adding up the behavior of an entire population, every single individual choice matters: we need to act as one big entity to control the chaos. Again, trust the government, they’re the only one with the means to guide that one big entity.
Quarantine means that you need to change your lifestyle for a bit. No more superfluous actions, but let’s talk about what you can do. You can go back to your residency location if you happen to be far from it. Tourists can get back if you’re a student you can go back to your family, but I advise you NOT to do so. There is no reason to expose your family to the virus if you already caught it or vice versa. Just wait 2 weeks. Goods will be always allowed to circulate, so there is no need to raid the supermarket. There ALWAYS will be food.
Do not buy too many sanitary products either. Again, we need to act as a whole and there are some people who really need it and can’t run out. Again, supply will come, although more slowly. You can, once in a while, go for a run BY YOURSELF, don’t make it too long and don’t interact with anyone. The virus only spreads with close human contact, so even if you have no symptoms you can still infect someone. Remember again, act as a whole! If everyone starts going for a walk at the same time, then it’s not safe anymore. Do not force the government to take excessive actions, they may overreact and we want to avoid it.
The quarantine can also create a strange sense of community. I’ve seen people singing and dancing from their balconies, complete strangers talking from their windows, more acts of solidarity that I can count, tons of signs comforting one another with “it will be okay”. People are coming together, and even if someone fakes it, it FEELS real. You may think that’s cringy, and I get that it may not be for everyone, but it can make a huge difference. Especially if you live alone.
You’ll talk to friends you didn’t hear from in a while, you’ll set aside most conflicts because what the hell, there is a fucking pandemic around here and it certainly can wait! Actually, I feel less lonely now that I did 2 weeks ago, and I haven’t left my house in more than a week.
Finally, the virus itself. This is going to be very subjective, but I can share my experience. I developed symptoms last Saturday night, so it’s been almost a week now. It feels like a bad cold to me, but it’s lasted waaaay longer, for me a cold is 3 days normally. My fever has been going slowly up, at first so mild I felt perfectly fine, then it got worse.
Paracetamol lowers it, but it usually comes back up. Especially during the evening. Coughing so much is VERY annoying. It’s strange, I don’t know how to explain it but it’s almost like when you drink water and it goes in the wrong pipe, so you get a burst of cough for a couple of minutes, quite often… Drink a lot of water, if you’re on a diet stop it, eat even if you’re not so hungry. If you feel out of breath, IMMEDIATELY call the emergency number.
Depending on how many cases there are in your country, you may go to the hospital only if you have tested positive to Covid-19 or only if you really need respiratory assistance. That is how it is in Italy at the moment.
Follow, of course, all the WHO guidelines and, hope it’s pointless to say now, wash your hands. And do not panic. Never. We will be okay, trust me.
Edit: I didn’t expect so much visibility, so first of all a big thanks to everyone who read, shared and even translated the answer.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to focus on my condition in particular, because guys, this is too subjective to be of any real help. There are people who had a mild fever for a couple of days and then it all went away, there are people whose fever last a bit longer like me and there are people who are not able to breathe without external help. I’ve been asked to transform this in a sort of diary, and I’m happy to do it, but I won’t focus on my symptoms or any medical fact. I am not a doctor and in no way qualified to give medical opinions. I can, however, give insights about the situation in Italy, about how quarantine works and feels like and about how the situation will evolve in the upcoming days.
Stay safe everyone, and thanks again for the support!
Edit 21/03/2020: So… the situation is much different right now than it was when I first submitted the answer.
Personally, I’m no longer showing any symptoms besides very very low fever at night. I peaked around day 7 with a fever up to 39.3 °C, but on day 12 I was awakening with very mild symptoms, completely gone right now. It’s not been a fun ride, but for a lot of people out there it’s way worse.
Let’s try to make some clarity.
The disease spread: As of today, Italy has 53578 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 42681 currently active, 6072 recovered and a staggering 4825 deceased. We are way past the number of deaths happened in China, and unfortunately, there is no sign of a slowing down yet. Around a week ago, we were hoping to be in a more linear phase of the spread since the number of new daily cases was more or less the same every day, but the truth is we’re still in full exponential growth. Around 4000 new cases per day, it was 2000 last week.
Anyway, these numbers are not real. There are tens of thousands of people reporting ill to their doctors with coronavirus-like symptoms just staying at home like I did because hospitalization is not needed. The real number may be between 5 and 20 times higher.
Nationwide, the situation is very different. The South and the Center are holding up, while the North, especially Lombardy, seems to be the epicenter.
Healthcare situation: It’s really, really bad. The healthcare system is on the edge of collapsing. Hospitals in cities like Bergamo are completely full, and patients are being moved in less-affected regions. A lot of medical personnel has fallen ill and thus is not able to work anymore. We are in desperate need especially of the respiratory therapists (I don’t know if it’s the right term in English so feel free to suggest an edit). Doctors and nurses are being called back from pension and even from abroad.
Right now, almost 1 in 3 people in intensive care in Lombardy are dying. This is not because the system is bad but because it is so overwhelmed that you arrive to the hospital way too late. Other regions are coping much better, Lazio, for example, has a fatality rate of only 4%.
This is what I was talking about. This is why Coronavirus is so dangerous. No country on earth is prepared to host this many people in intensive care, and it’s perfectly normal because you don’t size your healthcare system for a pandemic in normal times.
Quarantine: IT’S THE ONLY WAY. For now, we’re managing to keep the worst of the virus confined in the North. We’re waiting to see if the South is just a couple of weeks in delay, but we hope not.
The measures are becoming stricter and stricter every day. A lot of workplaces have been shut down, tons of people are employing smart working, but the government is evaluating the idea of shutting everything down except supermarkets and pharmacies.
Food is available and always will be, although you need to be prepared to spend hours in a queue. Elderly people have, of course, the priority.
You’re allowed to go out for:
- Buying food.
- Medical reasons
- Walking your dog for a few minutes near your house
- A short run, or physical activity, by yourself and only in the proximity of your house
Stricter measures may be taken by the most affected regions.
The army is patrolling the streets as well as the police right now.
This is a heartbreaking picture of the army in Bergamo moving the dead bodies to be cremated outside of the city because there’s not enough room even for that:
Let’s keep positive: The sense of community I was talking about last week is still there, if not more. People understand this is an exceptionally difficult time. People help each other, people talk with each other more than ever.
We are finding out how the internet is indispensable in modern times. We are finding out how the internet is able to connect us even if we’ve been torn apart. We are finding out, however, that we cannot live forever without real interaction. Skype is great, but it’s not the same. I miss my family, I miss my friends, even if I see them every day. We are finding out that we need each other, now more than ever, and that “old school social interaction” is not disposable. And it won’t be.
We will be back in the streets, we will be back in the piazzas, in the bars, restaurants, schools, nightclubs. More than before.
We will be again those warm people we’re so famous for. Just not right now, and believe me I have tears in my eyes as I say it.
We’re watching in awe how beautiful our country is. No one in their lives has seen it like that, without tourists, without people, without movement.
I’ve never been a fan of our PM and I will never vote for him. But I can’t help but share his, now famous, words:
Restiamo distanti oggi per abbracciarci, più forte, domani.
Edit again: Guys, the situation evolves hour by hour. Right now Lombardy has adopted even stricter measures, so going out for any physical activity, even by yourself, is not allowed anymore. Every non-essential service will be closed.
Aerospace engineer, data science and political communication
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