As Northern Italy struggles with Europe’s first and most significant outbreak of Covid-19, Robert Fisk examines the region’s links to China. So what is it about Italy? The Coronavirus path along Muslim pilgrimage routes to Iran is not challenging to detect. But it seems much more challenging to account for the extraordinary spread of the virus in Lombardy and 14 other provinces. Why have Italian authorities put 14,000,000 of their people in quarantine, while at the same time failing to explain to us why the wealthiest part of their country has engendered so many cases of coronavirus around the world? Across Europe, recent visitors to Italy have returned home as carriers, infecting and potentially infecting strangers in their countries as well as their family and friends. Is there anything we don’t know about Italy?
First, a significant crime. At the time of writing, 7,375 people have been tested in Italy, and 37 have died. But that exceeded the deaths of only 20 two Boeing 837 maximum aircraft that fell to Earth in Indonesia and Ethiopia, terrible and tragic although these disasters were. And as we all know, up to 627,000 people die every year worldwide from mango or garden flu. As Alex Thomson of Channel 4 keeps repeating: perspective, perspective, perspective. Finally, when an expert spoke on the same channel in the same sentence last week of Coronavirus and World War II, I asked myself a few simple questions. Yes, there are now more than 100,000 cases worldwide, of which around 4,000 have died. But the total death toll in World War II was not close to 70,000,000? Did the Soviet Union not lose 20,000,000 souls in the war against Hitler?
But now, back to Italy. Why is it the center of coronavirus in Europe? My travels these past few weeks have included Lebanon, Turkey, and Ireland, so Italy has not been on my journalism radar. Actually, I may have left this question about the people of Northern Italy in the air. I did not raise the remarks made by the Italian Ambassador for the National Radio Service of Dublin, Paolo Serpi, RTE, Ireland.
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