COVID-19 comment: Italian government 'fumbled' early responses23 March 2020
Dr Federico Faloppa, an expert in Italian society from the University of Reading said:
"Yesterday another 651 Italians died, bringing the overall toll to more than 5,400, and another 3.957 contracted the virus: nearly 60,000 people across the country are now confirmed to have the virus.
"According to analysts, some of the latest data would show a positive slight drop of deaths among the people that got diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalised in the last four days, but - as the peak of the outbreak is expected for this week – it is definitely too early to talk about a countertrend that Italy, as much as the rest of Europe, is eagerly waiting for.
"After Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced another drastic step in response to what he called 'the country’s most difficult crisis since the Second World War' on Saturday, the situation appears even more worrying as more and more people are asking themselves if these further measures were not taken to late anyway, and what the social and economic costs of the lock down will be.
"The mood on the ground about the government’s firm action is still very high, and the vast majority of the Italian people have taken the COVID-19 outbreak very seriously and patiently from the beginning.
"However, Italians start wondering if - despite now having some of the toughest measures in the world - Italian authorities may have fumbled some of those steps early in the contagion, i.e. disregarding advice from Chinese epidemiologists, struggling to navigate division of powers between Rome and the regions, which resulted in a fragmented chain of command and inconsistent messages, and avoiding aggressive testing of people without symptoms in the North as, authorities argued, this would have only drained on public resources and created general hysteria.
"Blanket tests of people without symptoms, together with a strict quarantine from the very beginning, are nevertheless proving to be an effective strategy in Vò, a town of about 3,000 people that had the country’s first coronavirus death and is now showing a turnaround and a significant drop of infected people, and Prime Minister counsellors are now suggesting that blanket tests should be trialled elsewhere in the country, especially in areas where the virus can still be successfully and rapidly contained."