With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third most populous member state of the European Union. To date, roughly 1.8 million people have been infected with COVID-19 there, and
64,000 of them have died. How is the virus changing people’s lives – and especially those of our employees?
In the company’s “My life with COVID-19” series, Hapag-Lloyd Communications Director, Nils Haupt (NH) and his team take a look at the most affected countries to get first-hand information from the employees on how their lives have changed since March 2020.
In this issue, Emanuela Lomazzi, Office Manager in Milan, speaks about her personal experiences.
Italy was very much affected from the beginning. How did it start for you?
We had the first cases in February. And then it spread rapidly, especially in the region of Lombardy, where we saw many people dying. Cities like Brescia and Bergamo as well as some rural areas suffered the most. Among the fatalities were also nurses, doctors, and Catholic priests. As a country, Italy wasn’t really prepared to deal with this crisis – or for the shock of seeing army trucks transporting coffins to the cemeteries. The government basically shut the country down. Everything was closed from March until May, and we all started to work from home. What we experienced via the media was a real battle against the virus.
How did you personally manage the lockdown?
Like all the others, I stayed at home. I only left the house for a small walk or to buy newspapers, bread, or some things from the pharmacy. In these weeks, we were one united community as Italians, from north to south. We grew together; we fought together. There was lots of solidarity. At night, people leaned out of their windows or stood on their balconies and sang for the hospital workers. It was impressive and very emotional.
The lockdown ended in late May. How did you feel?
Of course, there was lots of relief. Offices, public transport, and restaurants reopened. Unfortunately, people tend to forget easily, so people disregarded distancing and hygienic rules. The big problems started again in August. Many Italians came back from vacation and brought the virus back from wherever they had been, such as Sardinia. The numbers grew again, and the second wave arrived in October. And then we were in a mess again.
What makes the second wave different than the first one?
Hospitals and doctors are not as overwhelmed as before. People with mild symptoms can now stay at home and follow the protocol. Unfortunately, we have lost the solidarity and unity we had during the first wave. People are just tired of being locked in. Families are exhausted from having to take care of their kids at home, as schools have been closed for some time. While the first wave shook Lombardy, this time the virus has hit Milan, Como, and Varese. As the borders to Switzerland were still open, lots of commuters between Milan and Switzerland spread the virus to their respective communities.
And then suddenly you contracted the virus, too…
Yes. My husband and I with 6 friends were invited over for dinner at our friends’ place. Although we complied with the rules, we both developed symptoms after a few days. My husband was feverish and had some respiratory problems. I was very lucky, and I only had very mild symptoms. We followed the protocol, took some medication, and stayed at home in quarantine for 25 days. It was OK for me, as I could work from home and I was in constant contact with the staff. Some days, I didn’t even think about my infection. Now, I can finally go out again. I wake up early and go out for a little walk at half past seven, and then I start to work.
What has frustrated you the most about COVID-19?
There are lots of conspiracy theories – but also demagogy – to be found in the media. Lots of it is false, and I can’t stand this, as it’s harming our democracy. Many people believe fake news and don’t adhere to the rules anymore. That’s why I believe we need to be very careful and check where the information is coming from. Yes, governments sometimes do the wrong thing. But it is extremely challenging to fight a pandemic, and we should appreciate that the only thing governments really want to do is to save as many lives as possible.
What’s your biggest concern right now?
If we reopen everything too early, we might have a third wave. We need to keep everything closed, strictly follow the rules, and stay home as much as we can. The flipside is that our city centers might change. Many shops are about to die and won’t be able to reopen after another lockdown.
How was Christmas for you?
It was very different, as we weren’t able to celebrate the way we usually do. Normally, we would have had the entire family over and had a lot of noise from children and a very festive dinner. We were just three people this Christmas, but we managed to have a great evening together. Sure, it was sad. But we wanted to – and we had to – comply with the rules.
What have you personally learned from the pandemic?
Professionally, we have all learned to work from home and to take care of our customers and business partners from there. Despite this, I can’t wait to return to the office and to see my colleagues in person – even if it is just to share a coffee together. Personally, I have learned that we can all live with fewer things, and that the most important thing in life are the people around us.
Interview: Nils Haupt
Hapag-Lloyd’s Nils Haupt started a series of interviews in which shipping line employees talk about their jobs and the daily challenges they have to master during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The interviews are published in Hapag-Lloyd’s in-house channels.
By courtesy of the company’s communications department, we are authorized to publish the interviews as well.
In this way, a broader readership gets access to the testimonials.
So far, Angie Morales from H-L in Guayaquil, Soniya Mokal of H-L Mumbai, Marcelo Alejandro Saravia working for H-L in Valparaiso, Sophie Nieves from Buenos Aires, Natalie Alexander of Atlanta, Georgia, Valparaiso-based Roberta Herrera, and Rodrigo Gonçalves of Santos, Brazil have been featured.
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