COVID-19 in Italy: Woke Up on Several Nights to Ambulance Sirens

Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Video Producer: Zijah Sherwani

I’m Harmehak Singh, a masters degree student currently in self-isolation for more than 40 days in Bergamo, a small city in northern Italy and also the heartland of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

I haven’t stepped out of my apartment since 24 February.

I haven’t stepped out of my apartment since 24 February. I had gone out a day prior to 24 February, for groceries, and had stepped out for an outing with friends. Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined that it would be my last outing in a while.

The university had announced suspension of lessons only for a week due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Little did we know that it would would escalate into one month and now another month has started and we have no idea when things will get back to normal.

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Nobody had an idea that the coronavirus would last for so long. I did consider whether I should travel to India or to Rome (where my dad stays). I thought travelling to India would only mean more risk of infection, since I’d be in crowded planes or at crowded airports.

I thought travelling to India would only mean more risk of infection since I’d be in crowded planes or at crowded airports.

The plan to travel to Rome had to be dropped since my dad is diabetic and that scared me, since I could be the carrier of the novel coronavirus. Honestly, when things first started in Italy, there was so much speculation; some said that the virus stayed alive on objects or surfaces for a few seconds, then there were reports that it would stay for up to 48 hours.

It was really hard to believe anything because Italy got infected at a time when there were still new pieces of information related to COVID-19 every day. That’s why I decided to stay where I was already.

I firmly believe that I am one of those few people in Italy, who are really privileged and lucky to have all the resources.

On most mornings, I wake up before my alarm goes off because of the ambulance sirens. I usually go to bed early, but I have woken up on seven such nights, at 1 or 2 am, where ambulances were heading to an apartment in my neighbourhood. It’s really overwhelming when you know that there will either be a new confirmed case tomorrow morning or even sadder news over the next few days.

I’ve been trying to stick to my routine, of reading books, watching Netflix (that I am bored of) practising Italian, keeping a diary and expressing more gratitude than before.

Rise in Fake News

I started to get calls from people who normally only called me on my birthday. I realised why they were so worried and concerned about me – because the number of cases in Bergamo have been on the rise.

And the news about the medical system collapsing and bodies being taken out to other cities to be buried, is all true. However, Indian media or other Indians on social media love to exaggerate – like how the prime minister in Italy had surrendered or how the doctors in Italy have refused to attend to patients or have sent patients home and the worst one has been that there are dead bodies lying on the roads.

All these news stories made me so emotionally vulnerable, so I decided to cut back on the news consumption and social media, especially Instagram usage, because of the insensitive content that people started to share in the form of memes.

I decided to stay away from everything disturbing my peace. I can confirm that I’ve been doing much better since the last seven days and this has been a good detox from all the negativity.

During this period, I’ve been able to experiment with my self control in a lot of terms, especially when dealing with the consumption of my resources (wisely).

Whether that’s consuming one meal a day and sticking to a planned intake of light breakfast/lunch. It has been tough but definitely not the worst thing to happen. I’m still one of those who has too much already and I don’t see anything to complain about.

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