Amanda Vojvodin-Dargenio of Windsor is living under quarantine in Milan. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Voyvodin-Dargenio)Amanda Vojvodin-Dargenio of Windsor is living under quarantine in Milan. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Voyvodin-Dargenio)

Under quarantine in Milan: Windsor woman in Italy during pandemic

"It's definitely weird," said Amanda Vojvodin-Dargenio over the phone from her home in Milan, Italy, about a strict quarantine in force to deal with COVID-19.

The Windsor woman moved to Milan six years ago, where she works at a fashion house organizing events and marketing the company.

Italy has been struck hard by the virus and now reports over 12,000 infections and more than 800 deaths. Italian authorities said there were 2,000 cases Wednesday alone.

Up until last night, residents were encouraged to stay home, but Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte announced quarantine for all but essential workers. The lockdown is in place until April 3.

"Up until last night, we were able to continue to go to work, and then last night they closed off all offices, all businesses, all companies that are not essential," said Voyvodin-Dargenio.

Anyone who plans to leave the house to visit a doctor, go to a pharmacy, or pick up groceries needs to fill out an online form, print it, and carry it with them.

Voyvodin-Dargenio said police are stopping people and asking for certification, and she has heard on the news there are fines for those who do not follow the lockdown.

The measures seem extreme, but she said she feels safer with them in place.

"I think they're taking it quite seriously because the situation wasn't taken seriously from the beginning," said Voyvodin-Dargenio. "People were still going into crowds in supermarkets, or on the streets. Schools have been closed since the end of February, but kids have been meeting up in parks or cafes.

"I thought if I'm doing these things, I'm taking the necessary precautions, but the rest of the country isn't, then the virus is just going to continue to spread," she continued.

Until the Prime Minister's announcement, residents in Southern Italy were not under the same restrictions.

The hospitals are full, and Voyvodin-Dargenio said an event venue had been turned into a makeshift hospital to handle the overflow. Still, she continues to have confidence in the Italian healthcare system.

"The healthcare system in northern Italy is wonderful -- but, they don't have enough space for everyone," explained Voyvodin-Dargenio.

In the meantime, she is occupying herself with her work, books, and puzzles.

"I've got a puzzle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, so that's a big tough one to do," she admitted laughing.

While Italy is in the full throes of the pandemic, Canada is on the cusp. Voyvodin-Dargenio stressed to her fellow Canadians not to "freak out," but listen to health experts, wash your hands, and avoid large events.

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