How concerned should you be about the coronavirus in Italy?
Where all of Italy has been dominating the headlines worldwide as the European country with the highest number of cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the vast majority of the confirmed cases have been reported in the North of Italy. In Rome and the Lazio region, no active cases have been detected yet. Still, many questions have aroused amongst travellers whether it’s still safe to visit Rome and whether they should cancel their trip to Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak. Numbers show these worries are not being kept ignored as for March, tourist cancellations have reached 90% and new bookings are down with 60%.
The current situation in Rome
In diverse Facebook communities, the messages of people asking whether they should or should not cancel their trip to Rome have been plenty. Clearly, the images of empty supermarket shelves and a nearly abandoned Piazza del Duomo in Milan have had their effects outside Italy. But how is the coronavirus currently affecting the public life in Rome?
With no active cases reported and the three coronavirus patients that were detected late January being fully recovered, Rome’s public life is not interrupted. This means that no schools are closed, public places and events are not getting restricted and there are no constraints on getting in or out of Rome. Except the rare person wearing a face mask, people continue their business as usual. Although Roman pharmacies have run out of face masks and hand sanitisers, this seems to be more out of an act ‘to better be safe than sorry’ than people seriously getting worried and avoiding public spaces.
Hence, for anyone reconsidering their visit to Rome, it’s important to know that their experience would most likely not or really just barely be altered due to the effects of the coronavirus. Perhaps the most notable thing to mention concerning the public life is that the monthly free museum Sunday scheduled for 1 March has been cancelled throughout the whole of Italy. Still, whether or not to come to Rome remains a very personal decision that one should take after carefully checking the official information sources. As the situation is constantly changing, it’s important to have the latest news facts checked.
Should I cancel my trip to Rome because of the coronavirus?
Except the parts of Italy that have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, there seems to be an overall feeling that the media has seriously blown up and distorted the image of the actual situation in Italy, as this sentiment is massively shared on social media in various memes and messages by the people living in Italy. The minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi di Maio, has published an infographic stating the facts of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy so far, as plenty of misinformation is spread which is seriously harming Italy’s “scientific community, image and economy”.
Zooming in on the situation of the coronavirus in Rome, numbers show di Maio wasn’t exaggerating. An alarm was raised by tourism associations as for March, cancellations have reached 90% and new bookings have gone down by 60%. A growing number of European and American schools and universities have been reported cancelling their exchange programs and study trips. The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has called for an emergency meeting with all stakeholders in these days. An estimation as reported by the Corriere della Sera states that the costs of lost revenues in Roman restaurants equals 3 million euros a day, putting thousands of jobs at risk. So, while most of the locals are living their life as usual, (foreign) tourists seem to massively avoid the Eternal City causing them to change their travel plans.
Spread of the coronavirus: disease control and prevention
Obviously, the effects of the coronavirus should in no way be trivialized and we are all called upon to apply extra measurements aiming to limit the further diffusion of the virus as much as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry. According to the health minister, Roberto Speranza, health officials and the World Health Organization, these prevention measures should be adopted to decrease the virus spread:
- The most important thing is to wash your hands. Wash them for at least 20 seconds making sure you’ve covered all parts of the hand, including in between the fingers and underneath the nails
- Wash your hands more often, especially when you’ve been in public transport, libraries, playgrounds, public toilets etc.
- Try to touch your face as least as possible, especially the area around your nose and mouth
- When sneezing, try to sneeze in your elbow instead of your hand when you don’t have a tissue. When using a tissue, it should be thrown away immediately (single-use), preferably in a trash bin with a closed lid
- Same applies when blowing your nose. Try to avoid handkerchiefs and use a tissue instead, which should be thrown away immediately in a preferably closed trash bin
Stay informed on the latest updates on the coronavirus in Italy
Whether you’re staying in Rome, or you’re considering to come, make sure to always be informed about the latest facts in Italy and the overall situation of the coronavirus in Europe. No active cases have been reported in Rome yet, but we’ve seen the situation changing rapidly. As of February 28th, the death toll in Italy due to the coronavirus counts 17 people, with 650 people who tested positive.
Sources to check:
- The official website of the ministry of Health (ministero della Salute)
- Italian newspaper La Repubblica who are giving an update every hour
- The website of your embassy in Rome
Corriere della Sera
Wanted in Rome
NOS Nieuws (Dutch)