Day 9 of lock down in Italy: I was thinking about what to write this afternoon as it didn't seem like there was much to share.
I started making some notes during dinner, and I now sit here with a page of scribble in front of me. I've always enjoyed writing but as I've gotten older it seems there was less space and time to write. If nothing else, this lock down has reignited my passion for writing and sharing. It's even more rewarding knowing that my musings are helping friends near and far.
Each morning I get up, shower and get dressed. Right down to shoes and socks. I think many people in Italy are spending their days in the pyjamas, dressing gowns and slippers.
I can't do slippers all day. Slapping around in them, tripping over in them, losing them off my feet whenever I sit down - it's annoying. I really miss walking around the house barefoot like we do in Australia. Italians don't do bare feet, even at the beach. House slippers are an absolute cultural non-negotiable and Miss S is constantly getting into trouble for walking around in her bare feet. Of course as soon as we get back to Australia we'll all go back to bare feet and the rules will change.
The whole getting dressed thing might seem incidental, but it helps me feel like we're just getting on with a normal, productive day.
I spoke to my parents this morning. They remain in Tasmania, adamant that they will enjoy the rest of their three week trip. I know where I get my stubborn, determined streak from.
Miss S has been cooking. She whipped up scrambled eggs this morning. She's now doing the little things for herself that I used to do as gestures of love. Like making warm milk or camomile tea at night, or cooking her breakfast. It feels like the first threads of the apron string are being cut.
I took her for a walk this morning before we did any school work. We walked down the secret alleyway behind our apartment, into the sunshine in the piazza and down to the little garden on the corner of the cliffs on which our village is perched. The gardens are closed. So, no idling over the fish pond or walking around the botanical selection of trees, Instead we walked past the shuttered restaurant and bar and under balconies where women were hanging washing, chatting to neighbours or smoking cigarettes. They all eyed us suspiciously.
We are allowed to go outside to exercise, although it's discouraged, and this was the first time Miss S has been properly outside in 9 days. The requirement is to keep 1.5 metre distance from other people at all times. There are certainly no other children out and about. Armed with our self certification forms and ID cards, we marched down the steep windy road behind the village. Some local dogs barked furiously, unseen behind their gates, as we silently headed down the hill. I asked Miss S not to chatter as we walked, not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to ourselves. The march back up left us both drawing deep breaths, and glad for the sunshine.
Back inside Miss S started working on her draft for the first chapter of a fantasy novel as part of her Australian schooling English assessment. Her initial reluctance at what seems like a big task quickly disappeared as she lost herself n the process of planning out the two lead characters, the fantasy setting and the introductory paragraph. Fairies, dragons and volcanoes are featuring.
Gigi continued his research for a replacement laptop. Why the world of computing has to be so convoluted is a mystery to me. 8GB, Intel, 256 GB, touch screen. USB ports 3.2, SDD, 15 inch screens...and the fantastic news is that what cost me about $450 in Australia is going to cost about $1000 in Italy due to different trade agreements and taxes. Luckily, I'm a millionairess so money is no problem (sarcastic tone duly noted).
We have friends in the UK that are genuinely sounding panicked. I worry for them, and their aging family members. The UK government has decided to close all schools as of Friday. I really hope the powers that be understand the gravity of what's coming their way.
Italy reported 475 deaths today. "Barring a miracle, Italy will surpass China in the number of coronavirus deaths in just one more day. Italy has an older population than China's, but only has 60 million people to China's 1.4 billion people. Just think about that Italy has a population of 60,000,000 compared to China's 1,400,000,000 and the number of deaths is levelling up.
In response to the every growing numbers, Italy has decided to scrap the final exams for 10,000 student doctors in order to rush them into service. Let's just hope that all 10,000 of them were destined to pass those undeniably important medical exams.
UNESCO is reporting that half the world's student population of is not attending school or university due to COVID-19. That's 850 million children, in addition to however many million that never receive an education due to poverty, gender or circumstance. "Nationwide closures are in force in 102 countries and local shut-downs in 11 others." UNESCO are stepping up efforts to support countries and educators with distance learning measures, but it's a huge task. If nothing else "this effort is an opportunity to rethink education, scale-up distance learning and make education systems more resilient, open and innovative,” For more on this check out https://en.unesco.org/…/half-worlds-student-population-not-…
Educators around the world have suddenly found their workloads have increased exponentially as they move lessons and learning online. It's important to recognise their efforts, professionalism and dedication during these time. We have an extensive network of teacher friends, family and colleagues here in Italy, in Australian and across the globe. I know they are all working hard.
In our village some parents are struggling with lack of technology, internet and know how, and this is a first world country. Imagine the interruption to learning that is happening in less privileged nations.
I can't imagine the increased workload of health care workers. With friends as nurses and doctors here and abroad, we have our fingers crossed that they all get through this demanding medical catastrophe...recognising that it's very likely that some of them will get sick as a result of their work. In fact one beloved doctor friend is being tested tomorrow.
Supermarket staff are also overwhelmed at this time. Coles in Australia is recruiting 36,000 new staff members to meet the demand for stocking shelves and serving customers as Australians continue to panic buy everything. The Australian Prime Minster has chastised Australians for the ongoing panic buying that is resulting in violence, bullying and arrests. Common sense seems to have left the building. I read a news report that "Police will now be patrolling Australian supermarkets in the latest attempt to quell the panic buying fever." Police...at the supermarket, monitoring queues and assisting in crowd control. What an astounding use of policing resources.
In Italy the stress for supermarket workers is a little different. While shelves are reasonably well stocked, instead the doors are locked as they monitor the number of customers allowed in the store at any one time. Masks are a given. While the rest of us stay home, safe and protected, they go to work every day to ensure that people can still eat. Many of the local supermarkets are operating on skeleton staff which must be increasing the workload for those on the job.
In contrast to the Coles recruitment drive, Qantas is standing down most of its 30,000 staff until the end of May with workers forced to take sick leave or annual leave. The airline has already cut 90% of its international fleet, with all Qantas and Jetstar international flights suspended from the end of March. Virgin Australia is also suspending all international flights until mid June. There will be many airlines that simply go bankrupt as a result of the downturn in travel caused by COVID-19 and their will be billions of tax payer dollars used to prop some airlines up. I hope my friends that are pilots and flight attendants manage to keep their jobs.
For stats on the unfolding COVID-19 situation UNESCO has set up Coronavirus Watch website at http://coronaviruswatch.ircai.org/… It's reporting more than 217,500 cases with nearly 9,000 deaths. These stats are slightly higher than the WHO website which reports 166 countries are now reporting infections.
I've been reflecting on the fact that most of the media news feeds I'm seeing are Western centric. There has been no reporting on the situation in Russia, South America or on the continent of Africa except for South Africa. There are apparently 195 countries in the world. 193 as recognised by the UN plus the Holy See (Vatican) and the State of Palestine (let's discuss that later shall we?) I'd like someone to compile a list of the 29 countries that have so far avoided COVID-19.
The French Open has been postponed. There are now doubts about the Tokyo Olympics in July although "The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage". I wonder when they will decide to pull the pin.
I admired my clean windows today. Washed the pile of clothes that Miss S seems to create without even going outside. I planned some lessons for tomorrow and we had a lengthy, funny video chat with the irrepressible Ofra and Ofir in Israel. Boredom is not an issue, in fact the list of things to do seems to be ever growing.
We ended the day with a bittersweet movie called 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood' starring Tom Hanks as Mr Fred Rogers. Miss S needed a solid 5 minute hug when it ended.
Now I need to get Gigi out of bed to take the organic waste matter downstairs for collection.