I haven’t written on this blog in a long time. The reason why I am doing it now is that I have received messages from friends and former guests wondering how we were doing in the middle of the Covid19 situation. So I thought a post might help people understand what is going on in Tuscany now.
First of all, I would like to say that life goes on just as always. We don’t know what the future may hold, but at present, Coronavirus is not a major issue in Tuscany. The region has had 12 known cases as of today, most of which can be traced back to the outbreaks areas and, apparently, have been contained.
Schools are open, museums, restaurants and bars are open and operate normally, supermarkets are well stocked.
Does this mean Tuscany is not affected by the Covid19 paranoia that seems to have hit Italians and foreigners alike? Of course not. People are a bit scared (not sure for a good reason) and try to be more careful with croweded places and means of transportation. So everything seems a bit quieter. There are very few tourists, many cancellations, few reservations.
This is my view on the whole thing, from somebody who does run a vacation rental in Tuscany but who does not rely on it to live, so if it stays empty for one year, so what?
I believe that Coronavirus is worse than the flu, because it ends up evolving in severe respiratory issues in 10-20% of the older patients and this puts a strain on the health system. But it is not the plague, or Ebola, or AIDS, or not even SARS. It’s not a deadly desease for the vast majority of patients.
The attempts to contain the contagion do not aim to stop it, which is impossible, but to make sure people get sick in turns, so the ICU units can function properly and keep treating patients with severe symptoms.
Yes, I do believe there is no way to stop this virus, or any other one that propagates so fast and has symptoms so similar to a cold or no manifestations whatsoever in most cases. This is at the same time both good and bad.
It’s bad because I am sure this is the tip of the ice-berg and should they decide to test thousands of asymptomatic patients in other areas of the country or in any other country, including the States, Germany, the UK and France, they would find thousands more people who are infected with Covid19. Thousands. It’s unimaginable that the virus hasn’t travel globally on the hundreds of flights that have left China daily carrying, not only Chinese people, but also citizens of other countries who were in the area for work or leisure.
Covid19 must be everywhere, even near many of the people who will read this. They may just not know it yet, because tests haven’t been run. They are only testing people with flu-like symptoms who have been in contact with people in China or Northern Italy. It’s a biased view.
Think about this: the outbreak has become a known fact only because the first patient, a 38 year old, otherwise strong and healthy, kept deteriorating and his wife in the end mentioned a friend they had met for dinner after he had been back from China. Now, this guy turned out not to be infected in fact. So he’s not patient 0. Nobody knows who patient 0 is. Or when the contagion started. Had the woman not mentioned the word “China”, alla these people we now know have Covid19 would just be filed under “seasonal flu”, and “patient 1” would be one of the few yearly unlucky cases of young and otherwise healty people with unexpected severe consequences of the flu. This will change very very soon (in fact I think it is changing already), and more country will suddenly realize Covid19 has been here for a good while and we should stop treating it as the plague. It’s here to stay.
The good news, though, is that very few people end up with very severe symptoms. Most people, 80% in fact, have minor or no symptoms at all. And the vast majority of the cases reported are totally asymptomatic. Many of us might already have had it and be over it.
We should also think about numbers. If you think about it, even 1000 cases is a relatively small number of people in an area that counts over 20,000,000 people. 12 cases in Tuscany means 12 people out of about 4,000,000 people. Sure, nobody wants to be one of them, but we must keep some perspective. Unless this is seriously, and I mean seriously, underestimated, the virus cannot be terribly contagious. There are 60,000,000 of us in a small stretch of land. We have very thick networks of social exchanges. We move around a lot, gather a lot, spend a lot of time with a lot of other people.
This said, do I believe that there is not risk whatsoever? No I don’t. But I believe the risk of visiting Tuscany at the moment is no greater than visiting any other country which has had contacts with China between October 2019 and January 2020. After December the cat was out of the bag. So unless you are planning to keep indoors until this passes, you might as well be here instead of there.
In all honesty, the only fear I completely understand is that of ending up on a flight with somebody who then becomes sympthomatic and ends up quarrantining you in a foreign country for 2 weeks. But even that is quite a remote possibility in the grand scheme of things.
Anyway… should you look for a quiet place away from it all, no better spot than our little village and our Casina di Rosa!!! 😉