The Coronavirus in Italy: keeping up with a new reality

A data-based report on COVID-19 that reveals how it is setting new paradigms for Italians

PRELIMINARY REMARKS

This report provides data-driven insights about the global pandemic with special attention to Italy. By analysing Google Trends and social media information, it focuses on the changes it has had on priorities of life, the practical terms of quarantine and the rise in acts of solidarity.

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This report is in no way intended to distract from the fact that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is first and foremost a human tragedy affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

As the situation is evolving rapidly, please note that this page reflects the data collected up until 24 March 2020.

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The European Timeline of Restricting Freedom

In order to combat the exponential spread of the pandemic and save lives, governments are taking strict measures that will affect the lives of all Europeans and increase their desire for information about “Coronavirus” – which is directly reflected in the search volume for this term.

30-31/01: WHO declares Public Health Emergency

23/02: Lockdown of 10 Italian communities after rapid increase of new COVID-19 infections

13/03: Spain announces to declare state of emergency and imposes a curfew afterwards

16/03: The French, German and British governments declare various measures, such as border closures as well as the closing of schools and kindergartens

Data retrieved from Google trends for five countries on March 18th for the last 90 days.

A DEEP DIVE INTO ITALY

Due to the rapid increase in new infections with COVID-19, the Italian government has decided to extend the lockdown from some specific zones to the whole country. From 9 March, Italians are only allowed to leave their homes for certain reasons, which must be proven by self-certification.

timeline

IN SEARCH OF PHYSICAL CONTACT, ONLINE

People forced into quarantine express their need for physical contact with others by telling their family members and partners how much they miss kissing and hugging. The most negative effect of the restriction of freedom does not seem to be movement itself, but the possibility of having actual contact with people.

30-31/01: WHO declares Public Health Emergency

23/02: Lockdown of 10 Italian communities after rapid increase of new SARS-CoV-2 infections

09/03: Start of the quarantine all over Italy: people cannot leave their home except for extraordinary reasons

Source: Brandwatch

LOOKING FOR POINTS OF REFERENCE TO FEEL PART OF A COMMUNITY

In order to counteract the isolation, the online behaviour of Italians shows that they are looking for points of reference and resort to the most important values in order to feel part of a community – both in the sphere of their families and in the nation.

FEELING PART OF A FAMILY

The first way for Italians to find a reference point is to feel part of their family. According to their online searches, their answer to isolation is to keep their children and family members occupied with leisure activities, as well as preparing and enjoying traditional family meals together. In this context, digital technology is also used to overcome distances and connect with family members and friends who may live far.

Traditional and family food

Quarantine period

Source: Google Trends

Activities to spend time together at home

Quarantine period

Source: Google Trends

Activities to spend time together at home

Quarantine period

Source: Google Trends

Feeling united as a Nation

Even if the Italians are very patriotic, they are rediscovering themselves as a nation at this moment of crisis. Thanks to the use of social media, activities such as singing together online and offline are taking place throughout Italy.

Balcony flash mob

Thanks to the coordination through social media, Italians sing the Italian hymn and popular songs together every night at 6 p.m.

Trending hashtags to create optimism

Many hashtags like #andratuttobene, #celafaremo #forzaitaliacelafaremo have become viral and are used to spread optimism in the country.

Solidarity at every level

In this moment of crisis, everyone is putting in their skills and resources to provide service for the community.

CITIZENS

Many citizens donate money or part of their free time to help weak people. The volume of searches for volunteer work, shopping for the elderly and homeless has increased during the quarantine. Especially famous entrepreneurs and fashion companies donated millions. Among them, for example, the fashion company Armani, which donated 1.25 million euros to Italian hospitals, and the Ferrero and Agnelli families, who each contributed 10 million euros in the context of the crisis.

Quarantine period

Source: Google Trends

SERVICE PROVIDERS

Many companies that provide digital services are offering them for free or with special discounts. In order to give citizens an overview, the Italian government has created a website that lists all the offers.

solidarietadigitale.agid.gov.it

COMPANIES

Many companies are switching their production to goods that are in short supply. The textile and fashion industry in particular are converting its facilities to the production of respiratory masks.

INFLUENCERS

Influencers use their popularity to collect donations. Many of them have used their credibility to raise funds and get their supporters involved in the donations.

ARTISTS

Many artists are using social media to offer their performance to people forced to stay home. Singers and musicians are sharing their live performance via Instagram, offering free concerts with the hashtag #iosuonodacasa (I play from home).