«After three years I still haven’t understood why Codogno was closed, Alzano, Nembro and Albino weren’t. People were terrified, 10-20 people were dying a day, they were all ready to accept the red zone. Yet, nothing came of it.” Dr. Guido Marinoni is the president of the Bergamo medical association. He lives in Val Seriana, so he knows the story of the missed red zone well after the first two positive cases found in the Alzano Lombardo hospital on February 23rd. And even today he considers the choice not to intervene with the red zone incomprehensible. And the general practitioners were also left helpless, nine of them died.
Why is it closed in Codogno and not in Alzano Lombardo and Nembro?
“If there have been errors, he will point them out to the judiciary. Let’s say that the judiciary already said two things today. The first is that it was a mistake not to close Alzano, Nembro but also Albino. The other thing is that in the area it was impossible for the doctors to buy masks. In this way 150 family doctors fell ill and 9 died. From there, the primary care failure narrative was born. There are certainly limits in the national health service, but beyond that, if a situation arises in which doctors go to work without protection and 150 out of 500 fall ill, the consequences are obvious.
How come you didn’t have masks?
“They weren’t there and couldn’t be found. For example, the police forces rightly had them through dedicated channels, but there were no dedicated channels for family doctors ».
One historical fact remains difficult to understand: the red zone was decided in Codogno, not in Alzano Lombardo.
“That’s what we all didn’t understand. And I still don’t understand it. Everything was already ready: there were the stations, the gazebos. We in Val Seriana took closure for granted. Suddenly the counter-order arrived and this remains inexplicable».
Was it due to pressure from the economic world?
«Certainly the companies were worried, it is obvious that they were not happy. But when there is a public health need, it just closes. But it didn’t happen. And I repeat: even today I cannot give myself an answer ».
What consequences did the decision not to close the municipalities in which the virus was spreading rapidly with a 30 percent growth in cases per day, counting only the official ones?
«The red zone would certainly have helped. It would have given us more time to organize. Of course, I realize that Val Seriana is different from the Codogno area where there is an agricultural vocation. In Val Seriana there are many industries, there are many relations with foreign countries, there is an important international airport such as Orio al Serio, one of the largest in Europe».
Let’s go back to those days, to February 23, 2020 when the first two Covid patients inside the Alzano Lombardo hospital were confirmed by swabs. Did the population oppose the red zone? Didn’t people want closures?
“On the contrary, the citizens were terrified. Sure, no one liked it closing, but the fear prevailed for when it was happening. And everyone assumed it would close. People would also have agreed to be taken to Mars. I don’t know if it was a political choice, I don’t know whether Milan or Rome decided not to close. But people’s expectation was for closure. People were afraid of dying. Maybe many forget it, but 10-20 people died a day. The memory is still alive today in healthcare workers, but in all the others there is a phenomenon of repression».