Coronavirus “second phase” in Italy: 18 million Italians are ready to leave

Leonardo Saulle - May 4, 2020
coronavirus desk research lockdown sentiment analysis

Coronavirus “second phase” in Italy: 18 million Italians are ready to leave

Phase 2 in Italia

Coronavirus in Italy: "Once the quarantine is over, after how many days do you intend to go out to meet friends or relatives?" is the question asked by PXR Italy to Italians in the latest survey on 30 April. The results are clear: half of the Italian population (between 18 and 64 years old) intend to go out in the three days following the end of the quarantine (phase 2).

Before drawing hasty conclusions, let us ask ourselves two questions: 1. what is a quarantine? 2. when will the quarantine end? 3. in the light of current events, what does it mean that so many Italians are leaving home to see friends and relatives?

What is a quarantine?

Let's start with the assumption that over the last few months some confusion has arisen over a number of words, including quarantine, lockdown, home isolation, and social distancing (you name it). So, first of all, let's define these terms and understand why they have been overlapped, confused, and misused in the last 50 days.

Quarantine is a period of isolation and observation to which persons capable of carrying or retaining infectious disease germs are subjected; the quarantine period is calculated in relation to both the relevant incubation period and disinfection practices.

Isolation and social distancing are means of disease containment and counteracting the spread of disease; the aim is to limit contact between individuals in order to decrease the likelihood of contagion. Home isolation, together with social distancing measures, serves to avoid gatherings or, to put it more simply, meetings between two or more people in the same place (Treccani data in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore di Sanità).

Finally, lockdown is defined as a condition in which people are not allowed to enter or leave an area freely due to an emergency (Cambridge dictionary data).

When will the quarantine end?

Now, let's put these words into the current context: Italy has been in a lock-down condition since 10 March (data Dpcm 9 March 2020); then, on 22 March, a form of home isolation was prescribed for all Italians, excluding the working classes considered essential, which involves travel only for proven work or health needs (data Dpcm 22 March 2020); social distancing, on the other hand, has been a compulsory condition since 4 March for all Italians; people are subject to quarantine (i.e. total isolation) as soon as they test positive or have been in contact with people who are positive for the coronavirus (Italy). It is curious to note how the word quarantine ultimately entered the common imagination with the meaning of each of the above words.

Ultimately we find that the question "when does quarantine actually end?" depends on the meaning we give to the word itself. If we mean the possibility of leaving the house to see (and not touch!) relatives, then we could say '4 May', the start of phase 2. If, on the other hand, we extend the circle to friends and acquaintances, the date is certainly further away.

Uomo esce dopo quarantena (fase 2)
Half of the Italian population (aged between 18 and 64) intends to leave in the three days following the end of quarantine

What will happen in the days following 4 May?

The answer to the second question "in light of current events, what does it imply that so many Italians leave home to see friends and relatives?" is curious for two reasons. First of all, given the considerations made above, we cannot be sure that 5 out of 10 Italians agree on when exactly quarantine will end; and this is precise because in recent months the word quarantine has been used with different meanings, creating misunderstandings about how it works, its beginning and its end (Treccani data in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore di Sanità).

On the other hand, many online newspapers in recent days have published articles with headlines referring to 4 May as 'the end of quarantine'; if Italians were convinced of this, the data highlighted by the PXR Italy research would be alarming. If Italians were convinced of this, the data highlighted by the PXR Italy study would be alarming. It should be borne in mind that, to date, it is estimated that 25% of covid-19 positive patients are asymptomatic (WHO data). Ergo, among Italians, there is a slice of the positive population who do not know they are carriers of the virus. In addition, young people and children often show mild, sometimes imperceptible symptoms of the disease (Ministero della Salute data).

Conclusions about Coronavirus in Italy

In conclusion, it is very likely that we will see an increase in the number of Coronavirus (Italy) positives after 4 May (start of phase 2). This increase could lead to new containment measures, perhaps tighter and more severe than the first ones.

All that remains is to appeal to everyone's sense of civic duty and responsibility: to date, more than 246.000 people have died in the world, and of these, more than 10%, or 28.000, are of Italian nationality.

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