Not many of my connections know that my family is from one of the areas of Italy most affected by Coronavirus, Brescia. Under three weeks ago there were virtually no confirmed cases in the area and now the situation there is critical. Hospitals are full to overflowing and it is impossible to leave the house without written authorisation.
The virus is very contagious and very aggressive according to relatives who are working in the hospitals there. So how can we prepare ourselves here as individuals but also as businesses?
The business community has a massive role to play in this situation. Most businesses are linked to each other through organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce and here in Rotherham, the Rotherham Pioneers. This can create massive potential for fast action when any shortage of goods and services etc are identified by councils or the government.
The word can be got out quickly. As I understand it throughout Italy lots of the factories and industry have not closed during the shutdown due to the importance of supplying the country with food, equipment etc. This is a time when councils and private companies should be working together as much as possible. Yes, we need ventilators badly but we will also still need potatoes for chips too.
On a personal level, there will be many people working from home like myself. I have just set up a Facebook Page and support group for people from my street especially for those self-isolating. This is important to do now to alleviate the worry that is circulating among older people. I think that a street by street approach is best to make sure that the people helping are known and also to be clear that this does not involve entering anyone's house. It may involve buying essentials and dropping them outside or keeping in touch with anyone stuck indoors and cheering them up.
This could also involve shops being prepared to drop off items outside people's houses that have never offered a delivery service before. Not all older people are online so taking orders over the phone may be essential. That said yesterday a ninety-year-old asked me to set him up on Facebook. So you are never too old!
The one thing I really want to emphasis is that this situation can change very very quickly. A month ago my cousins were leading normal lives. Being organised now will make a big difference to the future.