UDINE. One hundred thousand infections. It is impressive just to evoke it, that round number with many zeros. Yet, here in Friuli Venezia Giulia, we have arrived there. After a run-up that lasted more than 13 months and an impetuous acceleration from January onwards, when the second wave of Covid produced its worst effects and in the meantime, an illusory February lull evaporated, the embers smoldered under the ashes to give the “The” to the third wave. Which only now seems to be fading, even if the region has been in the red zone for four weeks, which provides for the heaviest restrictions on individual and economic freedoms.
One hundred thousand infected by the virus remains an impressive number: to be precise 18,965 in Trieste, 48,278 in Udine, 19,541 in Pordenone, 12,118 in Gorizia and 1,114 from outside. It means that one out of 12 residents of this area has had direct contact with Covid. And then it ended up in the vortex that provides swab, taken over by the Department of Prevention, home isolation, cortisone and oximeter. Until the arrival of the little message announcing “negative buffer”, a sort of liberation after anxiety and heartbeat. A path that can last 9 days, but also 14 or 28, depends on how long it takes a person to “clean up” from Covid. In the most serious cases, hospitalization was necessary: admission, destination to the ward (pulmonology, emergency medicine, infectious diseases), oxygenation. And the ambulances in the queue at the emergency room of the Santa Maria della Misericordia in Udine still flow before your eyes, with Covid patients inside waiting for treatment and a bed. A small part of those 100,000 even needed mechanical ventilation to combat the threat of the virus that came from the East.
And more than 3,400 men and women (the number is updated yesterday, but is destined to grow further) did not make it, losing the battle. Many elderly people – in the first wave of March-May 2020 it was the retirement homes that paid the highest price – but not only. Several in their seventies (and some in their sixties or younger still) who until the day before were in perfect shape, without any pathology, had to give up. The English variant, now predominant in Friuli Venezia Giulia, has made the virus more “bad” and contagious, helping to inflate the budget of the pandemic.
The first wave
Between March and May of 2020, when the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia were mourning hundreds of deaths and Covid 19 had thrown the whole of Italy into panic, Friuli Venezia Giulia seemed almost a happy island, sheltered from the most devastating effects. Certainly some rest homes (Mortegliano and Paluzza, and numerous in Trieste) had been heavily hit. But it seemed that everything was limited to those places, where 80-year-olds or 90-year-olds often lived in fragile and precarious health conditions. The chronicles reported the testimonies of infected doctors and nurses or of some young people who could not recover after 40 days. The barrier of a thousand positives was crossed on 25 March 2020, while on 29 April the number of 3 thousand infected was touched. Very low figures, compared to the numbers we have become accustomed to in recent months. Suffice it to say that practically the whole summer passed to reach 4,000 infected, and that round figure was touched on 9 September. And it took exactly another month to total 5,000 infected. At that date, October 10, practically the epilogue of the first wave, there were 355 victims.
The surge in autumn
At the end of October, the situation in the country begins to get more serious. The Conte government, from October 24, institutes a curfew at 10pm (a measure that has been in force for almost 6 months now) and closes restaurants in the evening. Italy becomes in color, yellow, orange or red, depending on the severity of the epidemic, with more or less severe restrictions that we have learned to put into practice. Friuli Venezia Giulia, this time, no longer seems immune to the more serious effects of Covid. And from the beginning of November begins a real “climb” of infections. On 22 October there are already 7,000, and just 3 days later, on the 25th, it reaches 8,000. It is not time to close the month when, on the 30th, the figure of 10 thousand infected is touched. At this point the rise becomes exponential and in fact on November 18th we are already at an altitude of 20,000. Another doubling of the infections, 40 thousand, on the day of Saint Lucia, 13 December 2020. And in San Silvestro, 31 December, 50 thousand infected are reached, with days where the bulletins of the Region also mark 900 new cases. The death toll, meanwhile, worsened with 1,642 victims at the end of 2020.
Third wave and English variant
2021 opens with the aftermath of the second wave of Covid, but if the increase in infections slows down a bit, not so the number of deaths, which first reaches 2,000 (January 14) and then exceeds 2,500 on 5 February. Here too the vaccination campaign is launched and it seems that we can finally bend the curve that is so alarming. Unfortunately this is not the case, because from the end of February onwards the virus regains its vigor. If on 7 February the statistics say that we have 70,000 infected, it is enough to arrive at 6 March to reach 80,000 and on 19 March, 90,000. Unfortunately, the sad number of victims grows at the same pace, reaching 3,000 on 13 March, as if a country as big as Aquileia had been canceled. The grip of the pandemic, thanks to the vaccinations that are starting to bear fruit (there are over 83,000 people already immunized) and the red zone restrictions, seems less iron in the last few days in which 100,000 infections have been reached. Really hoping it’s the last bad number to comment on, before getting out of the nightmare.