A Perthshire woman who moved to northern Italy to run an English language school has urged Scots to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Aileen Froude told how daily life has become a “nightmare” in her new home city of Udine, after the government declared a nationwide lockdown.
She said she has been forced indoors, while government vehicles patrol the streets using loudspeakers to issue curfew commands. She has also had to close down her school.
“We are right in the midst of the storm,” she told The Courier.
“It’s a nightmare. People need to learn from Italy’s mistakes: stay home, reduce all unnecessary socialising and don’t underestimate this virus. We did and now we are in a living hell.”
She said: “At the start of this, at the end of February, we were led to believe it was nothing more than a tough flu. It kicked off in Lombardy and the general consensus was ‘keep calm and carry on’.
“We carried on life as usual. Then Sunday March 1, turned into Monday and the cases of infection and deaths were rapidly increasing.”
She said just over a week later, the death rate soared to more than 800 with about 13,000 infected.
“Consider that from October 2018 to April 2019, Italy had 809 serious cases of flu, of which 601 needed ICU treatment and respirators, and 198 died,” she said.
“Compare this to the coronavirus numbers over just two weeks and consider that there are 60 million Italians and only 7,000 ICU beds available in the whole country.”
Aileen, who moved from Comrie to Italy 25 years ago, said: “We are now confined to our homes.
“The Civil Protection Agency is driving around in their trucks with lights flashing and loud speakers blaring, warning the population that we are under curfew day and night.
“We are basically allowed to leave the house for shopping, food essentials and medical emergencies.
“When leaving the house we must take a certificate declaring where we are going and why.
“This will be verified by the police and anyone without this document, or justified cause, will risk fines or even jail time.”
She urged Scots to heed the warnings and keep washing their hands.