A waiter stands by empty tables outside a restaurant at St Mark's Square after the Italian government imposed a virtual lockdown on the north of Italy including Venice to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak, in Venice, Italy Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: On Tuesday, March 10, the latest tally on coronavirus-infected people in Italy stands at 9,000.

In a little over two weeks, the number of recorded cases has surged massively with 500 deaths as of time of writing, putting the healthcare system under massive strain, with intensive care facilities struggling to handle the influx of new cases, Reuters reported.

Public transport in the capital, Milan, was working but the streets were much quieter than normal, with many smaller shops and cafes closed.

Faced with Europe’s most serious outbreak of the highly contagious virus, Italy has imposed strict controls on travel from the northern region of Lombardy and parts of neighbouring Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.

Residents speak 

Gulf News speaks to Italians in the UAE who share their concerns over the virus outbreak in the country.

Take the case of Paolo Gagliardi, 48, a businessman living in Dubai who is concerned about his 22-year-old son studying in Bologna. “He has taken the role of a caretaker as my wife’s parents are really old and both cancer survivors. They are at high risk of contracting the virus. And so my son is basically tending to them. My wife and I are worried for him and our parents. But this is all we can do. Nothing more.”

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Paolo and his wife Sam hope their loved ones back home stay clear from the virus Image Credit: Supplied

Gagliardi’s parents live in Salerno and his wife’s parents are in Bologna. "Salerno has not been impacted as much as Bologna since the latter is in the northern part of Italy which has been most hit by the virus. It is this region of the country that is feeling the strain of the virus most."

Still, Gagliardi says he is happy that the Italian government is working overtime to ensure things stay normal.

Italy Coronavirus
Paola's parents in law Eugenio and Sabina are at high risk of contracting the virus as they are both cancer survivors Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai-based Italian, Andrea Giovannini (30), Group Exercise Programme Manager, Fitness First is another concerned resident who lives in the UAE. Giovannini’s mother and brother live close to Rome. “My mother is an anesthetist and she is working overtime. I am speaking to the family every day. I am worried for them.”

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Andrea Giovannini with his mother who works as an anaesthetist in Italy Image Credit: Supplied

Giovannini’s brother runs a gym in Italy that has been temporarily closed following the lockdown set out by the country’s government. “The city is like a ghost town.”

Giovannini’s brother is said to get married in July and is hoping the coronavirus situation is under control.

“The public places are empty. Although my mother was saying not everybody is following the rules to stay indoors. People are going out to parks with their family and children.”

“This could be increasing the virus spread,” he added.

“Nobody is meeting up anymore for social events. My family was telling me even funerals are empty with no friends making their presence. It is a sad situation and hope it all changes soon,” he said.

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Andrea with his brother and brother's fiancee.

Right now there is a lot of uncertainty in the minds of Italians in the UAE. “We are concerned about our country and the people there,” he said.

Samantha Carletti, a housewife in Dubai, said her parents who live in Bologna are at high risk of contracting the virus. “I am worried sick. Every day I speak to them. My oldest son is taking care of them. He is a very matured boy but I feel for my son. I don’t want him to contract the virus either.”

"The town of Bologna is deserted. People are only going to the supermarket to buy basic supplies nothing else.”

Carletti said her son’s studies have come to a standstill. “Universities have been shut down and he is only taking online classes now.”

“What can I say, my son is a hero. He is managing his life and taking care of his aged grandparents. He knows that if his grand-parents contract the virus – they wont survive,” said Carletti.