ROME — In the village of Soveria Mannelli in Calabria, on the toe of Italys boot, a sign outside the local bar warns northerners not to enter.
The bar owner, Santo Cardamone, told local media that he was simply taking precautions. After all, thousands fled Italys coronavirus-hit sorth this weekend before the governments decision to quarantine some 16 million people living in the Lombardy region and 14 nearby provinces took effect.
“People are coming back from the sorth and going around town without any restrictions,” Cardamone said.
The exodus has amplified existing resentment in the economically deprived southern regions toward the far wealthier north, and raised fears that the outbreak could now spread across the south and its creaking health infrastructure.
Until now, the virus has barely crossed the invisible line running between Italys north and south. Of 9,172 cases in the country, only 273 have been registered in the seven southern regions and islands, and just three of the 463 deaths.
This could soon change. Tens of thousands are thought to have rushed south on trains and in cars as news broke of the governments decree banning people from entering or leaving the worst-affected areas until April 3. Some 7,000 people registered with authorities in Sicily since the weekend and 2,500 in Puglia.
Southerners responded with incredulity and anger, and local authorities called for new powers to keep the northerners — mostly their emigrant relatives — out.
The president of the Calabria region, Jole Santelli, said a statement: “The uncontrolled exodus will bring an exponential increase [of the virus] here … We need urgent and serious provisions for containment and security, which are not in our power. I call on the government to assume responsibility for managing the arrivals.”
Francesco Emilio Borrelli, a regional councilor for the Green Party in Campania, criticized those who had tried to escape the lockdown.
Those who came down the other night knew what they were doing,” he said. “It is unjustifiable, unacceptable, and an act of selfishness that discredits those that did it. Fear is understandable, but intelligence, responsibility and love for your families must prevail.”
Much of the anxiety in the south reflects concerns that the local health system would not be able to cope with a crisis situation.
With a medical staff shortage and far fewer intensive-care beds — before the outbreak, tRead More – Source