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'It's not a total lockdown, really': Life in Milan during the Covid-19 outbreak

Irish student Megan has been staying indoors in Milan since last week.

Milan, Italy.
Milan, Italy.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

AN IRISH STUDENT living in Milan has been describing her living situation after Italy announced a country-wide lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

Megan* is 21 and originally from Meath. She has been living in Milan for a number of years studying political science at the University of Milan.

Her studies have been put on hold for the past two weeks after the university closed abruptly. She lives with her parents near the famous Duomo cathedral. 

“We’re planning on just staying at home – just one or two of us going out to the supermarket, walking my dog and that’s it. Not going outside for anything else,” she told TheJournal.ie. 

“I’ve had my grandparents [in Ireland] texting us asking if we can leave the house at all. People think that it’s really on lockdown, but it’s not.”

On Monday night, Italy extended its coronavirus travel restrictions from just the north to the entire country. 

Over 9,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Italy so far, with 463 deaths. It is the second most affected country by the disease in the world, behind China. 

Neither Megan nor her parents have been diagnosed with Covid-19. 

Her mother had a cough and sore throat one day and the family found the language barrier difficult when contacting local emergency services as they don’t speak fluent Italian.  

“The next day she woke up and she was fine, but if she hadn’t been fine what would we have done? It was just like if you don’t speak Italian, we can’t help you kind of thing.” 

Since last week, Megan has only left the house to walk her puppy and stop by the supermarket. 

“We try to stay at home as much as possible,” she said. 

“In terms of people acting differently, ever since [Monday] night, it’s gotten a bit quieter but you still hear people out on the street. It’s not like total lockdown at all really.” 

Her university has been closed for the past two weeks and her graduation, supposed to take place this June, has been postponed. 

Her classmates who had been applying for Masters’ abroad have paused their applications as they expect their exams won’t be completed as planned.  

italy-rome-coronavirus-containment-measures A woman wearing a face mask in Milan last week. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Precautions 

Megan and her parents have been wearing disposable gloves and face masks in public since last month, which has led to some judgement from people on the street. 

“One day my dad and I were out walking my dog and a man came up and coughed in our faces because we were wearing masks,” she said. 

She believes further measures should have been brought in aside from just closing universities and schools, sooner rather than later.  

“Everyone was still going out and meeting each other, just not inside university buildings. It didn’t make too much of a difference.” 

Her family decided to stay and “sit it out” in Milan rather than returning to Ireland when the outbreak worsened. 

They have not been stockpiling supplies because they think this “makes the situation worse”.

“We have been buying water a lot, however, because we can’t drink the tap water here,” she said. 

“When it was announced on Saturday that they were implementing this quarantine, hundreds of people left Milan by train. I’m worried there will be a massive spike in cases in the south where they fled to.”

*Name has been changed for anonymity 

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