Are we equal in the face of the Covid19 threat? There are three categories of people more exposed to risks. Let’s see which one.

By: Sara Mariani

Covid 19 has been coming into our lives for about two months now.  Quietly, in small steps, it approached and began to carve its place in the minds of all of us. Initially on 31st December 2019, with a news report on the news around the world announcing the discovery of a new virus in China.

“Too far away to care” was the general reaction.  Too far to affect us.

The numbers kept reappearing on television “the number of deaths today has risen to…”, and as I walked from room to room in my apartment, I could see these numbers getting bigger and bigger.

One day it reached Italy and made the word “distance” lose all its meaning.

On the one hand, in fact, the coronavirus has managed in a short time to make us understand how much we are all connected and how much what happens in China, apparently on the other side of the world, is not so far away from us; on the other hand, it has narrowed the distance to a minimum common denominator: The four walls in which you live are the maximum distance. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 minutes on foot or 2 hours by plane: the distance that separates you from others is the same and it’s impassable.

covid19 spread: Europe

The lives of each of us have changed, no matter what social class we belong to: rich, poor, no one can move, no one is immune to this pathogen. There is no way to fight this new intruder: but, since viruses spread if they find bodies that can host them, the only way to avoid contagion would seem to be to stay at home.

Many of us are learning that there are a thousand ways to be alone: some painful, some new, some unexpected. The media, social networks and chat messages record the nuances. There are those who spend their days trying to stem the losses of a job they no longer have; those who watch movies, read books, listen to albums; those who record humoral videos, those who clip ironic clips; and there are those who are alone and walk around a table.

Then there is F. who is sitting on a bench in Rome and is worried because he knows that the temperature that night will drop and that he will spend it on that bench. 

Homeless person on a bench during covid19

F. is one of the 14,000 to 16,000 homeless people living in Rome. One of the 50,000 in Italy. (1)

There are a number of limits that are difficult to overcome: the canteens must respect the distance of at least one meter between people, and many can’t make it; many dormitories have decided not to open the doors to new guests; those who distribute clothes have preferred to suspend the collection.

And then there is a paradox: people with symptoms of respiratory infections and fever are asked to consult their doctor and follow the instructions. They often have to stay at home, in quarantine.

This is the first reason: to stay at home, you need to have one. And a lot of people who live on the street besides not having one don’t even have a residence, so they can’t have a doctor.

On the other hand, there is no talk of domestic violence in Italian, Belgian and Greek homes.(2)

The second reason: the virus, meanwhile, forces the victims to stay home:

Table about the knowledge of domestic violence in EU

In Italy, 81.2% of femicides took place within the home, and data from the Telefono Rosa show that telephone calls in the first two weeks of March decreased by 55.1% compared to the same period last year. (3)

The forced cohabitation that the coronavirus has caused seems to be able to silence the cries for help of women subjected to domestic violence.

There is a huge amount of talk about people who are in Europe and want to return to their country.
But we don’t talk about those who are in the “middle ground”. In Africa, precisely because of the coronavirus emergency, many countries have decided to limit the movements of people between one country and another or to close the borders completely.

The migrants, therefore, find themselves in a condition of not being able to proceed either to the destination or to their countries of origin. In short, the coronavirus also stops humanitarian ships.

Reason three: All over the world governments are cancelling events and prohibiting large gatherings, but on the Greek island camps, people have no option but to live in close proximity. Their health is in danger. COVID-19 may be just the latest threat that people face here, but the conditions they live make them more vulnerable than the rest of the population.

Why are we not equal in the face of coronavirus threat?

There are 42,000 asylum seekers trapped in the five hot spots on the Greek islands. While the idea of demanding their evacuation during a pandemic may seem frightening, forcing people to live in overcrowded, unprotected camps is negligent.

Medici senza Frontiere

Today, the pandemic makes us lonely individuals but some are more lonely than others.


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