Why did the virus spread so quickly in Italy?
But, why did it take off in Italy? It’s a lesson for us all. Nobody knows what the index case was, at least while I’m talking to you we don’t know, we don’t know while I’m recording this. So somebody must have come from Iran or South Korea or China, and arrived in Milan or one of these small towns in Northern Italy and then it started to spread.
There is a little bit of evidence that it might be a slightly different form of the virus that’s elsewhere; maybe not as severe initially, and just starts to spread under the surface, between people, without anybody knowing it. It takes 14 days or so before it starts to be revealed and once it starts to be revealed, the thing takes off.
The first cases they thought were flu; they didn’t think it was COVID-19; they probably didn’t get on top of the testing. It probably infected people working in health facilities and they then passed it on to others and once it’s out there, it started to take off.
People are travelling around the country and it just went like a wildfire. Very unfortunate, but time counts. Every day counts when COVID-19 hits and they just waited too long. They thought that it was something else and Italians are bolshy as well and, you know, don’t want to confine themselves, but that’s not really the reason. We’re all bolshy. It just spread under the radar, thought it was flu, and by then it was too late.
Last Reviewed: 18/03/2020
Novel coronavirus - COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Find out how to protect yourself.
Is it worth shutting down schools?
It's likely children are spreaders of coronavirus, even if they aren't getting sick, but we don't really know yet.
How can I protect myself from coronavirus?
Dr Norman Swan explains what you can do to minimise your chances of getting COVID-19.
What will happen if I get coronavirus?
Dr Norman Swan explains what will likely happen if you get COVID-19.
Coronavirus still detectable in sputum and stool after throat swabs become negative
People with COVID-19 may still test positive for coronavirus in their stool and sputum, even after pharyngeal swabs have become negative for the virus.