Italy has been on lockdown but trains are still carrying people south.
And most probably the coronavirus with them. Yes, even though the train schedules have been cut back, last night (March 13), a train from Milan to Palermo was packed. What gives? We’re mandated by law to stay locked down in our houses, yet people continue to board trains and possibly contribute to the silent spread of the coronavirus. My rational mind tries to compute this kind of giant loophole amidst an effort to stem the tide of this highly contagious virus. Granted, the train schedules have been cut back dramatically. But people, many who don’t really understand the severity of this moment in time, just want to flee the north where the spread of the coronavirus seems off the charts.
The Italian government, in my opinion, has some serious explaining to do.
Asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus are contagious.
In fact, a person may be most contagious before showing symptoms and in the very early stages of symptoms. In an article from Science News (read the full article) a study done in Germany reveals just that. Of course, additional confirmatory studies need to be done, but if there is even a ghost of a chance that this is true, we could already be well behind the eight-ball. That would explain why Italy is under siege at this moment. Can humanity risk, hoping through wishful thinking, that asymptomatic contagion isn’t the case?
“Coronavirus is most contagious before and during the first week of symptoms. People stop making infectious virus once the body’s antibody response kicks in.” —sciencenews.org
Testing only after pronounced symptoms may be missing a key source of the spread of the coronavirus
We’re playing catch-up here in Italy. While many more tests have been done per capita in Italy as of late (826 per one million people*), South Korea, whose cases are starting to level out, has done dramatically more (3,692 per one million people*). This demonstrates that an accelerated testing curve can help reveal the true extent of the spread of coronavirus in a country. It can help powers that be to not be driving blind.
Thankfully, the U.S. is lighting a fire under making tests more widely available and expeditious. But, like in Italy, unless you have been showing clear, pronounced symptoms or have been in close contact with a person known to be infected, the chances of getting a test are vastly diminished. In my opinion, therein lies a BIG problem, since many infected people with robust immune systems are asymptomatic, risking the spread of coronavirus to other people. And, in a country like Italy, where families and generations are tightly knit (often under the same roof) older parents and grandparents, with weaker immune systems, can end up being infected.
“The disease may be mild for some individuals – but that doesn’t mean they’re not contributing to it spreading in the community.” Professor Howard Forman, Yale University
The shift from thinking “I could get this from other people” to “I could give this to other people.”
I admit, my first thoughts, when the spread of the coronavirus became more apparent, were of protecting myself. Then I realized that given my recent travels, and the fact that we reside in Northern Italy, I easily could have come in contact with someone contagious. I’ve been dealing with the onset of seasonal allergies as things start blooming, and that aggravates the slight asthma I have. The result is a pesky cough and some post nasal drip and chest congestion. But am I 100% certain it’s allergies? Could it be coronavirus? Probably not, but I really don’t know and given the current triage going in Italy with so many unmistakably sick people, no doctor is going to agree to give me a test. So, I’ve been shifting my perspective to assuming that I AM positive and contagious, and acting accordingly to protect other people. It may sound extreme but, in the absence testing, isn’t it the prudent thing to do? I think so. I certainly don’t want to be a contributor to the silent spread of coronavirus.
*stats source – Vox