Europe is the epicentre of Covid-19 – how did we get here? Answer – fairly quickly which is no surprise in the age of globalization.
The first European cases were identified in late January. For example, in France on January 24th, Germany the 27th, and on the 31st the UK, Spain and Italy.
In all, there was a connection to either Chinese tourists visiting those countries, or local people returning home from China from where the virus originates.
In February the spread accelerated – Belgium, the Netherlands Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Estonia, Iceland. The difference was that as well as the Chinese connection many cases were now of people who had recently been in Italy. Now, every European country has the virus – and the death rate is climbing.
Back in January, the images from Wuhan province seemed – so far away. Few ordinary people in Europe thought we’d see them here. The health specialists knew better, began sounding the alarm bells, and one by one the politicians began to understand the magnitude of what has about to hit – and that there will be a reckoning over who took what measures and when. Some were quicker than others.
Italy went into lockdown first…. Just a few towns on February 23rd even then some politicians were still saying we must NOT change our habits… Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the governing Democratic party said, “Our economy is stronger than fear: let’s go out to eat pizza.” Italy carried on with ‘La Dolce Vita until March 8th – then the death toll rocketed. Prime Minister Conte quarantined Lombardy and 14 other northern provinces. The national quarantine came two days later. Spain and others quickly followed suit and by the 23rd Boris Johnson, shocked by images of sections of the public ignoring advice – finally put the UK into lockdown. Alas, he was limited in his capacity to personal lockdown and is now in self-quarantine having tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday along with, albeit in different buildings, his Health Secretary Matt Hancock….
Next year we’ll have a clear idea of how many died – and a
less clear argument about which measures cost or saved lives. This crisis will
change many things – including perhaps some of our leaders.