Part 9- Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown: A Horror Movie

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By Bonnie Khan

Part 9

As of March 9, 2020, Italy has been put on near-total lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It is the worst hit country outside of China with more than 120,000 infected. Bonnie Khan – a Trinidadian living in Venice, Italy – is recording her life during the lockdown.

Saturday 4th April developments

  • Number of infected people in Italy: 124,632
  • Number of fatalities: 15,362
  • Number recovered: 20,996

News roundup:

  • The infection rate is has dropped by almost half since last week from around 8% to around 4%.
  • The President of Veneto has ordered blood tests to identify asymptomatic spreaders.
  • 70 Intensive Care patients were discharged this week.
  • Lockdown ‘end’ date is now April 13 – measures may be relaxed.

Day 28

It would be comical how Covid-19 spread around the world if the actual results were not so tragic.

It’s like looking at a bad horror movie on repeat, the kind where you keep yelling at the dumb actor on the big screen: ‘Don’t go outside! The killer is right there!!’ But of course, dumb actor goes outside and gets murdered.

In this case, its people living in Italy who are yelling at the rest of the world. But no one seems to be listening.

Sandra Zampa from Italy’s Health Ministry said it best: “Italy looked at the example of China … not as a practical warning, but as a ‘science fiction movie that had nothing to do with us.’ And when the virus exploded, Europe … looked at us the same way we looked at China.”


  • Italy ignored China and South Korea. Result? A national crisis not seen since WWI.
  • Spain ignored China, South Korea and Italy. Same result.
  • The UK ignored China, South Korea, Italy and Spain. Same result.
  • The US ignored China, South Korea, Italy, Spain and the UK. Same result.

What were these lessons? Simply, from VERY early on:

  • Test widely – not just to the narrow criteria of travel of direct contact.
  • Enforce social distancing.
  • Heavily restrict movement of people and close down any absolutely non-essential places.

How Italy’s lockdown really played out

This is the true story of how a two-week lockdown became a five-week lockdown, simply because it allowed too much freedom in the early stages.


  • Jan 31 – February 20. For nearly three weeks, there were just three reported cases: two quarantined in Rome and one in Milan. At our Carnival party for the kids on February 22, which had about 20 adults and kids, coronavirus was not even mentioned.
  • February 23: cases jumped to 150 in the villages around Milan. These were put under strict military quarantine. We were looking at news reports with disbelief that people were still getting together despite the order. Couldn’t they just stay inside for two weeks? People were dying, how hard is that to do?
  • March 4: The number of cases cross 3,000 almost overnight. Schools closed. But since it’s immediately after the Carnival week holiday and the cases are curiously mostly in Milan, people go about their normal business. With schools closed, we organise play dates with Arrigo’s friends and go to the park with his cousins. Life as normal, just without school.
  • March 8: Cases cross 7,000 and they lockdown North Italy.

First phase: March 9 – 18

The two-week nationwide lockdown is announced with government telling people to stay home unless it was necessary to go out. Bars, restaurants and museums closed, a ban put on public gatherings and shopping centres had to close on weekends. Other commercial activities could remain open if a distance of one metre between customers could be guaranteed.

We could still go to the supermarkets and pharmacies, exercise outside but alone. And we did. Every couple of days either Diego or I popped out to the supermarket or pharmacy for something essential.

Apparently, so did everyone else.

All over Italy, there were crowds. People were going for walks, going to the supermarkets as normal. Still gathering in groups, even though we were only doing what was allowed.

Second phase: March 19 – 23

Army trucks move hundreds of bodies out of Bergamo. The number of cases crossed 40,000. Numbers of infected and dead keep rising because people are still moving around. Stricter measures are ordered: factories, public parks and hotels close, movement between regions is stopped and higher fines and jail time if these were broken.

Third (and final?) phase: March 24 to present

On March 27, 919 people died in one day. Currently, more than 120,000 people are sick. If I were to guess, I’d say that it was related to people’s actions during the first phase – a lot of gathering together to do the ‘essential’.

The strictest form of lockdown is in place: only one person per household to do essential shopping every ten days, no moving more than 200 feet from your home and government ability to shut down public transport if needed.

On March 30, the rate of infection finally started to decrease.

What’s the lesson?

In most countries, people are now in Phase One and making the same mistakes Italians did.

You don’t need to.

Don’t be the bad actor in the bad horror movie who runs outside and gets killed.

GO DIRECTLY TO THE THIRD PHASE. Have just one person in the household go to the grocery and pharmacy every ten days, plan your meals, buy what you need and go back home, sanitise and stay there.

It works.

Andrà tutto bene, it will all be okay. Till next time.

See parts 1 to 8 below:

Part 8 – Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown: ‘Survival’ tips


Part 7 Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown: Week 3 – A Salute to Nurses






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