Coronavirus, the infected ran unchecked in Italy: day by day, so the government did not supervise


“There is no reason to create panic and social alarm,” he said the other evening Giuseppe Conte during the extraordinary press conference in which he announced the presence in Rome of two Chinese infected with the coronavirus. Of course, but how is it possible that on 23 January two gentlemen, 67 and 66 years old from the province of Wuhan, the epicenter of the new Sars, could have landed in Malpensa and traveled around Italy until they felt ill at the Palatino hotel in via Cavour Wednesday in Rome? Seven days free and undisturbed because at the Lombard airport no one decided to send the infected couple to quarantine. Pier Paolo Sileri, grill doctor and deputy minister of health, specified that the Asians who arrived in Malpensa were only given “a card upon landing, in which they were asked where they would go, a trace. Now we will go back over the path they have made and we will understand where they have been ». In short, tourists were asked to make their itinerary known and not where they had spent their last weeks before arriving in Italy. Unbelievable. Yet, by retracing the alarms on contagious pneumonia backwards, it can be seen that there are many flaws in the controls. Let’s go back 10 days.

The Ministry of Health decides to check the flights coming from Wuhan ending in Fiumicino, remembering that there are three direct connections between our capital and the “forbidden city” per week. As required by the International Health Regulations, at the Roman airport it is a health procedure in force – to let Roberto Speranza’s department know – to verify the presence of suspect symptomatic cases on board aircraft coming from Wuhan and their possible transfer to bio-containment at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome. “The probability of introduction of the virus in the European Union – underlines the ministry – is considered low, even if it cannot be excluded. In Italy there is a surveillance network of serious acute respiratory infections (SARI) and acute respiratory distress syndromes (ARDS). The situation is constantly monitored by the Ministry, which is in continuous contact with the WHO and the ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control), and promptly publishes any new updates on its Portal “.

On the same day, however, virologist Roberto Burioni is perplexed: «I read in the newspapers that the European authorities have said that the risk that the virus will reach Europe, and in particular in Italy, is minimal. I don’t agree with them at all, but I sincerely hope to be wrong. I would advise the Minister of Health to pay close attention to airports. ” Also the head of the Epidemiology Department of the Higher Institute of Health, Gianni Rezza, He is worried: “Having now ascertained that the virus is transmitted from man to man and observing this increase in cases in China with the widening of the outbreak compared to the Wuhan market from which everything seems to have been born, the chances of an infected person increasing in the European Union. It’s statistical. “

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And the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) upwards the classification of the risk that the virus lands in the Old Continent, bringing it from “low” to “moderate”. The transmission from man to man – reads the report of the Center of that day – “has been confirmed”. Meanwhile, at Malpensa, the Sea – or the company that manages the Lombard airport – makes it known that “at the moment we have only been asked for the list of flights from China and to display information signs” on the disease, aimed at travelers heading to Wuhan or returning from the locality, however specifying that the Malpensa health management does not depend on the airport managers, but on the ministry of Health which in these cases gives instructions on the measures to be taken ».

In the Chinese city, Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, begins a complete curfew. It is impossible to take public transport or go out on the street.

A direct flight from Wuhan arrives in Fiumicino. And the Ministry of Health announces that the activation of a sanitary channel with temperature control via scanner has been activated. It is also expected to fill in a form indicating the destination and route of the passengers, once disembarked. Furthermore, it is recalled that in Italy a surveillance network is active on the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The situation is monitored by the Ministry of Health which is in constant contact with the international health authorities. Currently WHO and ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control) believe that the probability of introduction of the virus into the European Union is moderate.

Instead, that day the two gentlemen from Wuhan province landed at Malpensa, along with 20 other people. Nobody monitors them. In fact, the health checks, as ordered by the Ministry of Health, took place in the Varese airport only on Sunday 26 January. So three days later. In fact, the supplies of medical and nursing staff have been intensified for almost a week. Alarmism is useless and harmful, however without the security of controls, the squeeze among people grows. And the responsibilities of the government are evident. Closing air traffic with China when the sick have already entered is not reassuring. The premier asks us to “lead normal lives”. Right, but someone could wake up earlier.

by Giuliano Zulin

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