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A week after Italy’s government began locking down the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, new cases are emerging as the death toll climbs. The scenario is overwhelming a medical system already reeling from an influx of patients. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Chris Livesay joins Hari Sreenivasan from Rome with updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
Italy remains on lockdown as officials and health care workers struggle to contain the corona virus pandemic. Special correspondent Christopher Livesay joins us now via Skype from Rome. Chris, we had a conversation a week ago. What's changed?
Well, the lockdown that was previously limited to northern Italy, that the hot spot here in this country. It expanded to cover the entire country. So that means as far south as Sicily and including the capital in Rome where I am. And then in the past couple of days, they've actually heightened those restrictions. And so you're only supposed to go out if it's absolutely necessary, if you need to go to the hospital, if you need to get food. And that means that the types of services you'll find once you do go out are also limited. It means that cafes and clothing stores, they're all closed now as part of this ban in place. Pharmacy's you will find open, grocery stores you will find open. But if you want to actually be outside of your home, you have to have proof that it's a good reasons. That means carrying with you this self-minted affidavit in which you explain your business. And if you don't have this on you and the police stop you, you can be fined or even arrested. And by last count, about five thousand Italians had already been charged for for breaking these rules that are in place.
And in a way, you are speaking from the future of something that the United States might face, at least in terms of how this disease or this virus progresses.
What we know about this disease is that even if you're healthy, you can be a carrier for this disease. So even if you don't feel any of the symptoms. That doesn't mean you can't pass it on to your parents or your grandparents. And I'm sure that a lot of people can go back in time and take greater precautions. They would. I mean, we're talking about a very serious situation, especially northern Italy, where hospitals are failing, where they're having to triage patients because there are limited resources when people come into the hospital and they're suffering respiratory failure. They have to be put on ventilators. And these are limited resources. A ventilator can cost tens of thousands of euros. And you have to be on these devices for six to eight days at times. And if you're in your 80s, your chances of recovery is very low. So in a lot of hospitals, it's become a wartime situation in which doctors have to decide whether to give it to the 80 year old or whether to give it to the 50 year old or 30 year old. I mean, there are reports now of of the dead not being able to be collected from their homes because the health services are are are overwhelmed and you can't get a funeral home that's willing to risk going inside a house where there's Corona virus because they don't want to get infected. I mean, it conjures up images from the Middle Ages when you had the black deaths sweeping through this exact same place where I'm talking to you.
You know, one of the things that I have seen online this week is also some of that pent-up frustrations of the Italians standing at their balconies trying to start singing and saying, you know what, this is not going to defeat our spirit. Is this happening in different cities around the country? Is it something that was an anomaly?
It was sort of like a flash mob. And it's something that I participated in myself just yesterday. My wife and I, we went out after a terrace.
And we at six o'clock in the evening with all of our neighbors saying the Italian national anthem and that there were some people with instruments playing guitar. Some people, you know, banging on a drum, some just hitting their pots and pans. And this show of unity, I mean, it's it's people are looking for reasons to show solidarity. And there are some bright spots here in the north in certain towns that were on lockdown earlier than the rest of the country. There they are starting to show signs of bouncing back where the rate of contagion has been slowed. So there's hope that by taking such drastic measures throughout the entire country that it won't get as bad. Specifically because so far as I mentioned, the worst cases have been in northern Italy. That changes the further south you go. And if this disease spreads south of Rome, where they just don't have the same resources, then we're going to look at an ugly situation getting a lot worse.
All right. Christopher Livesay joining us via Skype from Rome tonight. Thanks so much.
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