COVID-19 seen from Italy: the parallel universe

We now know that the effects of the coronavirus are known: fever, sore throat, breathing difficulties, but the symptoms do not stop there. We are talking about other side effects such as anger, worry, anxiety, fear but also, surprisingly, there are cases of hope, great will and even optimism.
The productive activity in Italy stopped by government decree in Saturday night March 21. I do not know if we can fully measure what this implies when we do not have both feet planted in a situation like this, but I would say that it is as if we were tele-transported to another world. A parallel universe. Not so long ago, I read that there was concern about the production slowdown caused by the use of social media in the workplace. Loss of profit, loss of several minutes of efficiency, you speak! They said it was a disaster. A disaster.

Disasters are other things and now we know it. We would like to count the minutes but it is unfortunately something else that we count. In Lombardy right now, if you are a health specialist, whether you are a dermatologist, urologist, gynecologist, orthopedist, surgeon or other, you no longer have the luxury of limiting yourself to your area of ​​specialization. All professionals have undergone 7-day express training to treat patients suffering from acute coronavirus symptoms.

The call was launched and the doctors responded because in times of crisis, you do not hang on to a specialization diploma, you hang on to life which furiously tries to abandon the patients’ bodies. We hang on for hours, for days and at the end, the virus still kills more than 500 people a day. Just Friday, 793 people were teleported to other skies and the doctors remained empty-handed, lives slipping through their fingers despite their fists being held closed and clenched like never before.

“Surprisingly, there are cases of hope, great will and even optimism”
– Jean-Philippe Pearson

In the homework that my son does at home – the schools may not reopen this year, I tell you that myself – it happens to me with: “I remember” what is it? (a homework in French, you guessed it). This is the motto of Quebec, which I answer with confidence.

– “Yes, but remember what?”

– Uh, well … remember.

I try to get out of it by telling him to study

– It must be written in your book, read!

– They say it’s not clear the origins. We don’t know.

I would have liked it to be my memory to be lacking but no, it’s true, we don’t know exactly what Eugène-Étienne Taché, the architect of the Quebec parliament was referring to, when he had this stone written in stone maxim that has become the motto of a people. We remember, but we don’t know what. It is special?

The coronavirus shows us, wildly, cruelly, that the economy is not everything. The lives that professionals working in public health are trying to save but who escape, the people who die in the hundreds and who are taken on military trucks to the crematoriums remind us that yes, we must take precautions to limit the damage but we will also owe them something else, to our dead. They will have to use this tragedy to improve our world. When we are told in the future that the economy cannot slow down to meet gas reduction targets, we will have to remember our deaths. When we are told that the health and well-being of people can only come from the strength of the economy, we will have to remember our dead.

When we are told that the economy comes first, let us remember them. Let us make it our deaths that we think of the future when we say “I remember”, at least during the struggles that await us. And if luckily in Quebec we will have few deaths, well… cry an Italian. Here we have too much for our tears.


Jean-Philippe Pearson, Quebec screenwriter and director, lives in Italy and lives in his forties with his wife and two teenage children. He hopes to survive the virus … and quarantine.

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