For all those of you who have already read this in our face book page or Travmedia, I am truly sorry however this virus is affecting me and lots of others. No-one is travelling to Italy as everyone is scared. There is so much hype it is completely unbearable. It is SAFE to travel to Italy as it is to travel to other parts of Europe. “…Calm Down, Calm Down” (Harry Enfield's Television Programme BBC comedy show of the early 1990s).
So our RANT starts here. All contributions welcome!!!
This is a story that is constantly unfolding, and we are on top of it and monitoring it with our inside and outside official sources here in the UK and in Italy, with airlines, contacts and our insurance experts in their respective fields. All of our contacts, authorities and leaders in their field have reported not to worry, to be calm and prudent when reading or watching the news. People including friends and family are getting on with their lives and I myself will be travelling to Italy at the end of March to review new properties and tours and excursions. Am I afraid of the threat of getting Coronavirus? I am more afraid of a terrorist attack or an earthquake!
Our inside sources have helped us to understand what is going on and are diligently working to calm and resolve the situation. Italy is the only country which has taken extreme preventative measures and that is the reason they are in the news. They are in full force and have already contained the situation, which is exactly why the media is reporting only in Italy. We know that the media is exaggerating and has many different stories that are heightening the situation and causing fear and panic. The UK government web site and the Italian authorities have confirmed that the lockdown areas are solely in the north of Italy and they are:
In the region of Lombardy:Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano
In the region of the Veneto: Vo' Euganeo
None of the places as stated above are on the tourist trail so it should not affect the majority of people travelling. Furthermore, you would not be able to access these towns due to the lockdown. People living in these areas total about 55,000. They are not allowed to leave as otherwise they will be arrested.
The latest official update for today is that Italy is open and running with flights which arrive on time and are full. For example, this whole situation is like the big high tides in Venice last November 2019. For the Venetians, it was a very difficult day, it took 2 days to go back to normal, but according to international press and media, it seemed as if the Venetians had suffered a tsunami! Press and media tend to exaggerate negative news. It seems that all the city of Venice is under armed guard quarantine, but IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT! In Venice, for example, life goes on as normal: shops, bars, and cafés are all open and public and private transport runs as normal. Venice Airport, Port and Train Stations are open: flights and ships come and go and life goes on as usual. Museums, Churches, and Basilica have re-opened as have the majority of museums in the rest of northern Italy. Locals and tourists wander around the city without wearing any face mask. No other restrictions are in force affecting tourists.
Italy closed museums and galleries and schools etc so that it could carry out a complete cleanup of these locations and of course these things take time and are for your safety. Did this also not happen in Hove? Did the clean up in Hove affect the locals or tourists to Brighton? I am sure it did for a few but not so dramatically. OK so the numbers are higher in Italy, but at least they are doing something about it and far more checks are taking place there, than in other parts of Europe, which means that their records are up to date and they are reporting real numbers. It is important to note that the numbers are high here because out of a population of 60 million, 9000 tests have taken place whilst in the States out of a population of 300 million only 400 tests have taken place, hence why the numbers are still low. This is just an example as I am sure it also applies to other countries.
It is also important that we understand that this virus is classified as a form of influenza. There are 4 types of seasonal influenza viruses, types A, B, C, and D and just like the Coronavirus, all age groups can be affected but there are groups that are more at risk than others. The facts are that in 2017 it was stated by the WHO that more than 650,000 people died of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year. During 2017-2018, total flu-related deaths, 61,000 and so far between 2019-2020, 14,000 people have died and 250,000 people have been hospitalised according to preliminary estimates from the CDC and the year has not finished yet. FACT! Even President Trump was shocked.
The thing to bear in mind is that influenza numbers have fallen as we have been able to vaccinate against the common influenza and understand its mutations etc.
As it stands at the moment, health authorities in Italy, claim that there are 2036 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 52 deaths and 149 recovered. If you consider that Italy has got over 60 million inhabitants, the percentage of people infected is extremely low. Most of the victims who have died were elderly, many over the age of 80. Some of them had underlying health conditions including cancer. It is also important to bear in mind the age group in Italy. Italy has one of the oldest population groups in Europe.
On Friday 28th February 2020, the EU stressed that the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in Europe is concerning but no reason for alarm.
"This is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic”
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told reporters in Rome after meeting Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
"We must also be vigilant when it comes to misinformation and disinformation as well as xenophobic statements which are misleading citizens and putting in question the work of public authorities,"
She added. Italian authorities have also urged calm whilst taking action, sometimes draconian, to halt the spread of the virus. It's important to remember that according to the World Health Organisation some 80% of those infected will only suffer mild symptoms with some 5% ending up in a critical condition.
The World Health Organisation advise the following basic measures
· Washing your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water;
· Maintain social distancing - Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
· Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. We remind you that no matter where you are, please follow this rule.
Having said that, there has been an additional report from several Italian Authorities and a panel of doctors who have been studying the outbreak and they have reported that it is expected to pass soon as all viruses have a specific cycle. There is also much work taking place at the moment for the “miracle” vaccine.
That the Italian authorities have taken very aggressive precautions has put them in the news as it is paramount to them that the virus stops so they are doing whatever it takes to resolve this. There are no UK or Italian or regional government orders preventing travel to/from Italy.
There has been a complete media sensationalism without having completely accurate facts and information and there is talk that the Italian government is actually in the process of thinking about taking steps to sue some newspapers who have started this frenzy. People in Italy are getting on with their normal lives, bars, cafes, and restaurants are open, people are shopping at the supermarket and heading to church on Sunday, they are still going for a walk on the promenade or gathering in the piazza, eating pasta and drinking vino and buying a gelato!!!
Every agent’s best interest is the safety of their clients. Each and everyone of them will keep clients posted with first-hand updates as they occur from their own official sources, from hotel owners and drivers, to family and staff who live and work in Italy.
We encourage people to be positive and prudent with their news sources. At this point, none of the existing bookings are being affected as all agents are liaising with the FCO and also with the Italian regional governments. All airlines are operative (except ones to and from China).
Finally, I would like to say that if people do not calm down, this whole situation will affect so many lives, not only from the virus's perspective but our everyday lives as the domino effect is massive. You only have to look at what is happening to the stock markets and China stopping its economy to tackle the virus. Just by China holding back, it is hurting and affecting businesses around the world, from big multinationals to tour guides, it will touch everyone as once fear gets a grip, it will then be the time for the gloom and doom train!
Our message to you is:
Be different, unique and daring and enjoy the very best Italy has to offer.
Your comments and views are welcome.