In this blog, originally published on Inspire the Mind on 8 April 2020, Valentina Zonca, Psychological Medicine Research Student at King's College London, details her experience of quarantine from Lombardy in Italy.
As those of you who have read my previous blog on how to prevent adolescent depression will remember, I am a researcher at King’s College London during my second year of PhD, working across Italy and the UK.
And in Italy I live and work in Lombardy, in the very red zone.
For me, being a researcher means spending hours working in the lab with state-of-the-art equipment as well as constantly discussing and exchanging of ideas with my colleagues and supervisors.
Thus, the lockdown in Italy has affected me and my work a lot.
It was the 20th of February when the first young man was hospitalized for COVID-19 related pneumonia in Codogno, a small city in the north of Italy less than a hundred km from where I live.
Then, I clearly remember the last time I was with my friends: on Friday 21st, one of my dearest friends told us that she was expecting a baby boy. At the time we had no clue of what it was going to happen to us all, only few days later.
In the meantime, the number of the Italian positive cases was increasing, and on Sunday evening, 23rd of February, my supervisor suggested that we should work from home for the following week, in order to avoid traveling on public transportation and being in crowded places.
“OK, it is just one week” — I thought — “I have some work to catch up on, and this is the right moment to get it properly done”. At the end of the week I was ready to get back to the lab.
At this point everything was odd but still under control in Italy. Schools and universities in Lombardy had been closed for precaution, but restaurants and bars were still open.
Then something changed: all of a sudden, the number of cases exploded and on the 8th of March, the entire region of Lombardy and other fourteen surrounding cities were declared “red zones” and put into lockdown.