Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

By Rachael Rettner

A small Italian town appears to have drastically reduced coronavirus infections — reaching zero cases last week — after implementing an aggressive tactic to curb spread, according to news reports.

The town, Vo Euganeo, in northern Italy, saw a cluster of cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the third week of February and was home to the country’s first death from COVID-19, on Feb. 21, according to The Straits Times.

Following this death, the town was put on lockdown, and all 3,300 residents were tested for coronavirus, according to Sky News.

This mass testing revealed that about 3% of residents were infected with the virus, and of these, about half did not show any symptoms, according to ProMarket, the blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. After two weeks of a strict lockdown and quarantine of cases, only 0.25% of residents were infected. The town isolated these last few cases and has since reopened.

Vo Euganeo has not reported any new cases since Friday (March 13), according to Sky News.

“The lesson we learned is that isolating all positive cases, whether they were sick or not, we were able to reduce transmission by 90 percent,” Andrea Cristani, a professor of microbiology at the University of Padua in Italy who helped carry out the testing, told RFI.

This message echoes a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO). “We have a simple message to all countries — test, test, test,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said at a news briefing Monday (March 16). “All countries should be able to test all suspected cases. They cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded.”

COVID-19 cases in the rest of Italy have soared in recent weeks. The country has reported more than 35,700 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths as of Wednesday (March 18).

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A man in Italy has been spotted wearing what has been described as a social-distancing “doughnut” in order to ensure he stays a safe distance from others during the country’s outbreak of COVID-19.

In the footage, which was shared online last week, the man is seen wearing a large yellow saucer, which has been suspended around his waist with two arm straps.

“And this would be a safe distance?” another man can be heard asking him in Italian, to which the doughnut-wearing citizen confirms.

“For coronavirus,” the man responds.

The video was reportedly captured in Rome’s Mercato Testaccio, a popular food market located in the Testaccio neighborhood south of the city’s center, according to a tag placed on the video.

Nowhere in the footage does the man refer to the apparatus as a “doughnut,” although that name had been applied by social media viewers, as well as Popular Mechanics.

Twitter users soon declared the man “un genio” (a genius) and praised him for his ingenuity, while another asked why the World Health Organization hadn’t thought of this idea first.

Despite the jokes, the practice of “social distancing” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been recommended by health agencies to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Social distancing for COVID-19 means avoiding places or gatherings where you are likely to be exposed to respiratory droplets from others – directly or on surfaces,” Dr. Jill Grimes, an urgent care physician at The University of Texas, had previously told Fox News. “We know this virus is spread primarily by these droplets, up to a distance of roughly six feet (from a cough or a sneeze) and so avoiding areas where people are physically closer than six feet is key.”

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Urban artist Biancoshock has converted Milanese manholes into tiny rooms to spotlight the extreme conditions people around the world are forced to live in.

The satirical intervention — titled ‘Borderlife’ — draws specifically from living standards in Bucharest, where more than 600 people call the city’s sewers home.

‘If some problems cannot be avoided, make them comfortable,’ Biancoshock says ironically.

The artist describes his work as ‘ephemeral experiences’ that play with the urban landscape of European cities.

He made the headlines in 2012 with a stress-reducing installation at a Milan bus stop, where customers could kill time waiting for their bus by bursting bubble wrap.

Five places in the world are now considered so-called “Blue Zones” – geographic areas where people are living much longer and more active lives. The first Blue Zone identified was Sardinia’s Nuoro province, which researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain found to have the greatest number of male centenarians. Four other Blue Zones have since been identified by National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner and his team of longevity researchers. In these Blue Zones people are reaching the age of 100 at a much greater rate than anywhere else in the world. So what exactly sets these places apart from the rest? In his book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Dan Buettner discusses the lessons he learned from the people inhabiting the Blue Zones and what specific lifestyle characteristics allow these people to live longer and better lives.

Ikaria, Greece

The tiny Mediterranean island boasts nearly non-existent rates of dementia and chronic disease and an isolated culture with a focus on socialization. Residents often drink goat’s milk and herbal teas and eat a Mediterranean diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, and olive oil. Because this population is comprised traditionally of Greek Orthodox Christians, many fast for nearly half the year (caloric restriction has been linked to a slowing of the aging process in mammals). They also exercise by gardening, walking, or completing yard work but also nap regularly.

Loma Linda, CA

It may be surprising that one of the Blue Zones is located in the U.S., but Loma Linda is home to about 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists who form an extremely close community. Many Seventh-day Adventists adhere to a vegetarian diet rich in fruits and vegetables and consume water and nuts in lieu of soda and unhealthy snacks. They also spend time with family and friends, particularly during the weekly 24-hour Sabbath, and give back by volunteering.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

Besides their diet, the secret to a longer life for Nicoyans may be in their sense of purpose and strong social connections. They eat a traditional diet of fortified maize and beans, drink water with the country’s highest calcium levels, and eat a light dinner early in the early evening. Nicoyan residents often live with family members for support and strongly wish to contribute to a greater good. Their physical work keeps them fit and is embraced in everyday life.

Okinawa, Japan

Although this area is experiencing a decline in life expectancies from the influence of factors like fast food, older residents have consumed a plant-based, soy-rich diet most of their lives and eat pork only for infrequent ceremonial occasions in small amounts. Okinawans spend time outside every day and nearly all grow or have grown gardens (a source of vitamin D and fresh vegetables). It is also traditional to form a moai, or social network, for emotional and financial support.

Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan

Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia has nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than the U.S., which could be attributed to a combination of genetics and a traditional lifestyle. The rare genetic M26 marker is common in this population and has been associated with longevity; due to the geographic isolation of the island, this gene is not prevalent in other areas worldwide. Sardinians eat a plant-based diet with pecorino cheese made from grass-fed sheep that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and drink wine in moderation. Laughter may be good medicine on this island – men in particular here are known for their afternoon laughing sessions in the street.

View of Cala Domestica beach, Sardinia, Italy

View of Cala Domestica beach, Sardinia, Italy