After a prolonged period of decline, a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Milan threatens to disrupt Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plans to begin re-opening the country on May 4th.
On April 16th, Milan became the province with the highest number of infected people - the growth rate for new cases in Milan was 30% higher than the national average.
The Milan region, the economic engine of the country, which prides itself on north European levels of industrialization, efficiency and competence, has also been hit by a major scandal at its largest nursing home, the Pio Albergo Trivulzio, where hundreds of deaths have been recorded.
Local leaders have pointed out that the serious situation in Milan and the surrounding area indicates need for caution.
At the local level there is great confusion and criticism of the crisis management strategy operated by the Lombardy region. It is being blamed for the lack of clarity in setting up so-called red zones, particularly in the devastated area around the city of Bergamo.
“Lombardy’s lockdown was implemented too late and it was incomplete,” said Roberto Burioni, a leading virologist and professor at Milan’s University Vita Salute San Raffaele. He called the region’s tracking and isolation measures insufficient.
However, during a recent episode of an popular TV show, Giulio Gallera, the health and welfare representative for Lombardy claimed that an atomic bomb had exploded in the region and that Lombardy had held up very well all things considered. He put the recent surge in confirmed cases down to the success of a campaign to test health workers, including those in nursing homes.
Italy is about to enter phase 2 and does so amid a tense political climate, the Conte government, which on April 23rd will have to defend the country's handling of the situation during a European Council meeting, finds itself managing an internal situation further weakened by divisions within the ruling majority and pressure from the opposition.
Between the anxiety created by an economic framework that’s been extremely affected by the break of production, and the different positions on the reopening from the presidents of the regions, the country is becoming more and more fragmented.