Covid-19 in Europe - Italy May 2020

Our twinned clubs in Sweden, Italy and France are locked down like the UK, but are still busy supporting their members and their local community. Here Italy reports on life under lockdown in Italy.


Italy Leads The Way

Coronavirus has taught Italy hard lessons, and Piedmont where our “twinned” Clubs of Alba and Ovada are located, has been hit hardest.  May’s Special Report is from Gualberto Ranieri, Secretary-Elect of Ovada del Centenario Rotary Club whose views are expressed below:- “Other countries should learn from Italy. I hope this report interests you all.”

In mid-March, Italy became the first European country to go into complete lockdown to protect its citizens from a pandemic attack, previously just an academic hypothesis for national security experts. Now what Italy has been doing can be a model for other countries.

What can we learn

The battle against the virus is full of unknowns, but in my view, there are three aspects of the current emergency that already contain unequivocal lessons.

The first concerns national security.

The pandemic caught Italy by surprise, almost like a large-scale terror attack. In schools of war, they teach that you always need to prepare yourself to fight the next conflict. Now we know this can be triggered not by an armed enemy but by a virus.  Consequently, hospitals, medical facilities, health equipment, doctors and nurses are our frontline. They are the trench to defend, consolidate and reinforce. We must then invest in health – rethinking national budgets.

The second lesson is the crucial importance of collaboration between citizens and official institutions.

Based on Italy’s experience of the pandemic. If a government has locked down public life, forced millions of people into a de facto quarantine and faced economic costs, it is because this is the only effective prescription to stem – and ultimately defeat – the virus.  Since we are a democracy, there is a constitutional limit to the obligations that can be imposed on citizens, hence the importance of personal responsibility.

The third element is Community Spirit

In Italy this was reflected in people at their windows and in balconies, who collectively applauded the doctors and nurses who are key to the fight against the virus. People are also playing or singing the national anthem from their homes, as a way of uniting against the pandemic in a show of spontaneous patriotism that ultimately makes the nation more cohesive.

Social Distancing

The coronavirus epidemic may be turning Europeans against one another witha loss of faith in the EU’s open borders and open markets.  Even more worrying is the use of the phrase “social distancing” instead of “physical distancing”. 

Social distancing sounds like people should stop communicating with one another, while instead we should be preserving as much community as we can even while we keep our physical distance from one another. It is especially true of Rotarians, as we are committed to “connect the World.”

How Did We Respond?

Rotary Club of Alba

A series of initiatives have been put in place to meet the new needs that the pandemic has highlighted including  the purchase of masks for the population within District 2032 and financial support to broaden web connections for the local “Cillario” school.
The Club and Rotaract Alba Langhe and Roero provided a device for the management and control of disinfection activities of surfaces in clinical and healthcare environments for the “Nuovo Ospedale di Alba Foundation”.

A “Global Grant” was given to the Emergency Medicine and Emergency Department of the Alba Hospital in collaboration and with the contribution of the Rotary Club Canale Roero, with the twin Rotary Club of Beausoleil, and the Rotary Foundation for the purchase of 3 portable WiFi ultrasound systems and 2 non-invasive respirators.

The fundraisers were carried out with great speed by President Ezio Porro and Dr. Remo Gattiglia, and PDG Philippe Tricetti of Beausoleil who designed and obtained international funding.

Rotary Club Ovada del Centenario

Lately, Ovada Club has been busy both locally and globally. Support was provided to a “Covi-at-home” pilot project, for patients staying at home and supported by medical staff, thus avoiding overloads in healthcare facilities.

The project originated in Ovada’s NHS area. Masks were handed to care homes and constables. The Ovada hospital got a 12-channel echocardiograph. In partnership with District 2032 Clubs, an oxygen system in a care home, thus replacing old fashioned large and heavy oxygen cylinders, was completed and medical equipment to the Acqui Terme public hospital was presented.

The Rotary Foundation greenlighted a Global grant to the pediatrics department of Lalla Meriem hospital in Larache, Morocco that needs a transfusion room for thalassemic patients. President Franco Camera and PDG Philippe Tricetti recently updated us on the progress of an International Project in favour of Bamako Koulouba Club in Mali that got portable water filter “straws” that remove bacteria, parasites and microplastics.

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