Popular tourist destination the Vatican now deserted
A particular video that has now gone viral on social media has added a race dimension to the virus emergency
March 10, 2020 has entered the record book as the day the Italian government announced the lockdown of the entire nation. Italy in just over three weeks has witnessed an astronomical rise in the cases of the New Coronavirus – it has overtaken Iran and South Korea as the nation outside of China to record high number of deaths and those infected. Major parts of northern Italy designated as red zones, which have been reporting new cases of the virus, were the only area under lockdown before the announcement. In spite of that alarming rate of the spread and warnings from the authorities, most residents were still carrying on as if the situation was normal. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his government had no choice but to sign the decree necessitating the lockdown. Truth be told, Italy is a nation on the move round the clock. This is the reason majority of resident are finding it hard to adjust to the new reality. The situation is more so for the immigrant community, where the majority can’t afford the “luxury” of a lockdown. The healthcare delivery system in Italy is superb and free, only second to France in the world according to Health Care Rankings 2020, but most migrants here in their daily strivings for survival take this for granted. Some are aware or too preoccupied making a living to give a thought about this deadly virus. So far there has been no report that anyone in the immigrant community has been infected with the virus, a situation a leader in the Latino Community in Liguria described to AfroLife as divine.
Ever busy Via Carroceto, Aprilia, Lazio Region deserted
A busy street in Pavia, Lombardy Region also deserted
A particular video that has now gone viral on social media has added a race dimension to the virus emergency. In the video a caller to a live programme on television who identified himself as Gianni from Alessandria, wanted to know from the presenter why immigrants are not being infected with the virus. The lady presenter of the programme taken aback asked to know if the caller wanted immigrants to be infected. Gianni promptly replied that he wanted them to be infected with the virus. AfroLife Editor, Bunmi Dan-Ekhator who visited a GPs’ practice in the Lazio region to see how they were coping discovered that the practice was no longer open to the public, she saw a man at the gate agitating that the whole Coronavirus situation was being exaggerated.The attitude of the middle aged man again demonstrates the mindset of some of the people to this plague, and the reason it has spread so fast with devastating consequences. In the capital Rome, an officer at the Ghana Embassy told her that consular services had been suspended, and that the Mission was applying the directives of the Italian government. In the Piedmonte Region, Onyiye Goerge reports from Torino, that the hustle and bustle of the city had been curtailed. She notes that while most migrants here are staying at home, some are still hovering or converging at their favourites joints. Mariam Diallo, a Senegalese mother of three who works as caregiver in the city, said she had to work and her employer had driven her to a food bank to stock up for her family. Diallo said she couldn’t afford to skip work for a day because she needed all the money for the upkeep of her family. Asked if she wasn’t scared of the virus, her response was everyone is scared and she was taking necessary precautions as directed by health experts. Jessica Adiele, the Nigerian Pastor in charge at Grace of God Ministries, observed that the lockdown directive was being complied with, she said her congregants were no longer meeting while all birthdays, christenings and such other celebrations have been postponed. She said she encouraged people with phone calls, assuring them with the word of the scriptures. Another Nigerian Pastor in the Sicilian Region, Bishop Monnel Okundaye, told AfroLife that no African has been reported to have been infected in the area but that his Ministry was providing valuable information to keep the community safe.
Pastor Jessica Adiele
Bishop Monnel Okundaye Light of Salvation Chapel
In spite of assurances by the government to residents not to embark on frenzy stock up, supermarkets and shopping malls have witnessed some sort of invasion since the announcement of the lockdown. AfroLife visit to some shopping malls and retail outlets up and down the country revealed a common trend, migrants are nowhere to be seen stocking up. They are still too busy to do that. In the Lombardia Region, the epicentre of the spread of the virus in Italy, Henry Bakare reports that Africans in the region are only now coming to terms with the spread of this plague. “They have been going to their work places, it is only after this lockdown announcement that some of them started staying at home.” Most cities streets in the region are seeing significant reduction in vehicular and human traffics. People are queuing up at retail outlets and invited in to shop in one and twos with public address systems blaring out instructions for those on queue to keep safe distances from one another. The story in Emilia Romagna is the same. Businessman and CEO of beauty product manufacturing outfit Phoenix, Sam Ufondu, who just managed to enter Italy after a business trip to Nigeria, told AfroLife of the extraordinary demand for sanitary products such as hand sanitisers. He said his company is unable to produce them at the moment because of lack of raw materials from Milan where suppliers have close shops. Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said the Italian government wants to suspend payment of utility bills, taxes and mortgages to help families deal with the impact of the coronavirus. “One of the four channels the government is looking at to help families and businesses regards liquidity, which must be guaranteed, that can be done by suspending payment of mortgages, bills and taxes.” He said the suspension would be in force from the next deadline for the payment of some taxes on March 16.    
Mr Sam Ufondu Phoenix srl