As northern Italy is ravaged by coronavirus, there’s trouble brewing down south

Four weeks into a nationwide lockdown, very few Italians are still singing from their balconies or banging pots and pans in solidarity.

Instead, flags were lowered to half-staff this week for the nearly 15,000 coronavirus victims including doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals who have perished since February 23.

Italy’s wealthy northern provinces have taken the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 75% of overall cases and deaths north of Tuscany, in the center of the country, per the Italian Civil Protection agency.

Had the initial infection cluster started in the poorer southern regions, which do not have the same strong healthcare infrastructure, the crisis would have been even worse.

But the southern regions are struggling, too: This is where organized crime syndicate hubs are based, and where unemployment hovers around 20% for adults and up to 50% for those under 24 during the best of times, according to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).

Even with the outbreak in some southern communities affecting “only” a few thousand, the facilities are stretched and care for non-Covid patients has been severely compromised.

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