Inside Italy’s coronavirus lockdown

Dominic Standish calls in to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic.

What can we learn from how other countries have handled (and mishandled) coronavirus? What does Trevor Phillips’ suspension tell us about the Labour Party? Do we need to #BeKind on social media? Tom Slater, Ella Whelan, Fraser Myers and Dominic Standish discuss all this and more on this week’s spiked podcast.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Filbert Flange

15th March 2020 at 8:58 pm

Well, it’s the damned kids spreading it. I say round ’em up and toss them into containers. Preferably airtight. Zoomer remover. They’re all bonkers anyways. We can make more and keep them away from teachers this time. Bunch of commie bastards.

Gareth Edward KING

15th March 2020 at 7:54 pm

This afternoon (Mar. 15th) the military police have been re-deployed in seven Spanish cities including Madrid which is the first time since the failed coup of February 1981. There have been 7,700 Covid-19 cases and 288 deaths with about half in the Spanish capital. It seems to me that Pedro Sánchez’s minority government is seeking to make political capital out of this health crisis, which since a state of emergency was passed yesterday has included draconian measures such as severe limits on free movement and assembly. Even after the Madrid terrorist atrocities of March 2004 with 192 slain, there was not an invitation for the military to be deployed. The Ibex index crashed 14% on Friday as capital takes flight. How these drastic measures are supposed to curb a virus is not at all clear. Wouldn’t testing on a large scale have been more focused?

Gordon Das Gopher

15th March 2020 at 6:15 pm

Top tip for staying safe:

So as not to get Coronavirus on your birthday wash your hands twice.

To save on loo roll use both sides of the sheet. If you need to buy more and the shops are empty buy 2nd hand.

Instead of loo roll go downstairs to the kitchen and wipe your bum with kitchen roll. Better still poo in the kitchen.

Don’t sneeze into your hand, sneeze into your sleeve. Then wipe the snot on your sleeve onto the nearest surface or friend. Just like you do when you sneeze into your hand.

Don’t keep your eyes open when you sneeze or your teeth fall out.

Gordon Das Gopher

15th March 2020 at 6:38 pm

Phone elderly loved ones, even if you don’t need to borrow money. Though if you do need to borrow money this is a good opportunity.

Ask elderly loved ones how they are BEFORE you ask for money. If they’re poorly ask for more.

Avoid shaking hands. Instead greet friends with a gentle tap on the bum. If you play rugby grab your friend’s crotch.

Wash your hands before and after picking your nose. Don’t flick the bogey, Coronavirus is a great excuse to eat it.

To make hand washing with alcohol-based gels more fun don’t use water, lick the gel off instead.

If alcohol-based hand gels are not available just buy normal alcohol but be careful not to put it on your hands. Take orally. In large amounts.

Authentic Being

15th March 2020 at 4:45 pm

OK – I’ll say it. . . Corona Virus is a hoax. It’s just the flu – normal flu. So – people get to go on the BBC and, in the Have Your Say section, and complain about all the scaremongering. .. people seem pretty sensible in the main. If the media say nothing about panic buying. . . do people ever panic buy? Or – the media says ‘public told to stop panic buying’. .. and everyone says ‘blast – I’d better get out there and buy some loo roll before the panic buyers get there before me!’. If this being ‘orchestrated’ on a global scale – with the permission of scientists that know better, or with scientists that know better being unable to speak out (or scared of losing funding). If this is all a giant scam.. . why is it happening? Well – is it some kind of live ‘test’.. . that is then flipped to be reported as a real event? It absolutely appears to be THE method for all of these things. Run it as a test. . . see how the public act in a natural fluid manner, give them some prodding with the media, slowly start closing things down, force old people to stay inside, curfews, rationing, armoured patrols. .. if it’s all for your own good to do it right? if it’s all for the good of frail old people you do it right? Everyone goes out of business, trillions wiped off stocks, pension funds destroyed. .. . bail-ins, higher taxes, central bank loans to save countries get paid back over centuries. .. . movement of wealth from poor to rich. Surely this is a hoax that you’re all falling for?


15th March 2020 at 4:14 pm

A US Army biohazard lab in Seattle was closed in August 2019 for failing safety checks.

369 American soldiers went to Wuhan for “military games” in October 2019 . . . and were quartered right next to the market.

The Chinese picked up the outbreak in December 2019 at . . . Wuhan market.

American cases kicked off on January 21st 2020 . . . in Seattle.


Davy Hayes

15th March 2020 at 4:02 pm

Re toilet roll panic buying. Could I suggest what a great many people used to do when I was a lad, back in the days of yore. They cut their newspaper up into squares, put a hole in a corner and hung it on a bit of string. I would suggest the Guardian would be ideal……

Gareth Edward KING

15th March 2020 at 10:57 am

Johnson’s government is correct on all fronts-he’s taken the advice of the medical body (in a general sense) and is letting the Covid-19 virus take its course-he can see it’s a medical problem. In Spain, they’re dealing with a sanitary crisis (=one problem) and now instead of seeing it off head-on they’ve declared a national emergency with a concomitant suspension of rights of movement and assembly (=two problems now), plus there’s the economic nose-dive to deal with (that’s three problems in total). This current ‘state of alarm’ is technically for 15 days but there’s no reason to suppose that it won’t be extended. I can’t imagine for one moment that there’ll be a decease in cases any time soon. The municipal pólice have inaugrated a drone which is going to be used to tell people to ‘go home!’. It’s like something out of Verhoeven’s ‘Robo-Cop’! Part of the emergency decree Article 6 on ‘rights of movement’ includes impossible-to-enact clauses such as ‘tasks on the street shopping for food, collecting medicines etc. can only be undertaken individually’!

Gareth Edward KING

14th March 2020 at 5:11 pm

Sanchez’s government has decreed that under a ‘state of alarm’ citizens need specific reasons to be out there on the street in response to the (relatively) rapid increase in Covid-19-related cases, especially in Madrid. Whatever the reasons might be, the people of the city are not taking much notice and are effectively ‘escaping’ to the Sierra de Guadarrama NW of the city especially as the weather is unseasonably ‘good’ and the city’s parks (El Retiro, Casa de Campo) have been closed, although in a very ham-fisted way (loud-speakers telling bods to go home!). Spain has too many recent historical memories of controls on freedom of movement (1939-1975, plus the failed coup in 1981) hence their generally bolshie attitude to authority along the lines of ‘We’re here, we ain’t square and we ain’t going home!’

Jim Lawrie

14th March 2020 at 10:39 am

The UK does not have enough Police to consider, far less enforce, such a crackdown.

John Pretty

14th March 2020 at 6:21 pm

I wish I shared your optimism.

I expect people will willingly go along with any sort of government imposed curfew on this, such is the level of irrational fear over this at the moment.

Jim Lawrie

14th March 2020 at 7:27 pm

A lot of that willingness is just where Boris puts a tick, they put a cross.
The time limit to quarantine by consent is c.4 weeks, after which people reach the end of their tether. If used too soon as part of a strategy to limit the spread of the disease, there is a danger that people break quarantine en masse at peak contagion.
Universities, the devolved governments, sports bodies etc … are using it to cock a snoop at The Conservatives.

I was part of minor quarantine in the early 70’s as a result of an outbreak of scabies at our school. After 3 days we were going nuts.

John Pretty

14th March 2020 at 9:19 pm

@ Jim Lawrie
I’m no fan of the Tories, but I fear you may be right. Current official advice (sensible in my view) is that if you have a high temperature and a dry cough self isolate for 7 days. No need to do anything else. But Liverpool University have just cancelled the rest of their academic year.

Jim Lawrie

15th March 2020 at 9:56 am

John Pretty they will end up awarding exam passes and degrees that they have not been earned in order to avoid the legal consequences of what they have done. But that pales into insignificance if the actions of the Scottish Government backfire.

I think we ought to bear in mind that it has been here for about 4 weeks and only 22 people have died. Government measures to keep it from the vulnerable are working.
FWIW I think it will be over in 5 weeks, because people can only be kept in a state of alarm for about that length of time before they say “Ach, tae Fυck wae that. Ah’m gaun tae the pub. Embdae cummin wae mae?” Then we will know.

What’s the point of being a student demobbed early if you can’t go to the pub?

In Negative

14th March 2020 at 10:33 am

One wwonders where spiked were when Ken Livingstone was being pilloried. Everything said here about Trevor Philips was true of Livingsone. Or Chris Williamson for that matter. What’s happening to Philips is wrong for sure, but it was tumbleweed here when the same thing was happening to the non-antisemitic anti-semites.

In Negative

14th March 2020 at 10:51 am

Turns out I was wrong about that – a quick Google shows spiked did put up a reasonable post about Ken. I must have missed it at the time.

In Negative

14th March 2020 at 11:04 am

Christopher Tyson

14th March 2020 at 8:54 am

We don’t always see authoritarianism coming, it is culturally specific, it creep in by increments. In the UK we would see a jackbooted militia coming, we would recognise the threat. In our therapeutic society authoritarian measures will be more effective if they take a therapeutic form. Is Coronavirus the worst crisis, medical or other, that most of us have seen in our lifetimes? We have seen the potential for the government to shut down society in a way even extinction rebellion would dream about. There are dangers, this could be a precedent, once closed down, will we be able to open up again? This is revolutionary, all of our values have been called into question, what do we hold sacred? What activities would we consider risking our lives for? To go to church, to go to football, to go to the theatre, to visit our parents or grandparents, to go to school or work. Everything that we take for granted is now open to question. In the therapeutic society, what matters is to stay alive for as long as possible, everything else is negotiable. I can’t honestly say if the response is or isn’t proportionate, but a society that is at ease with itself and comfortable with its values, would be able to easily reverse these measures after a given time, where society is ill at ease and unsure of itself as ours is, the cure may turn out to be worse than the disease.

Dominic Spaffings

14th March 2020 at 7:53 pm

We don’t just see authoritarianism coming, we actively vote for it. We voted to end free movement in the sense of travel to other countries. So what’s to say we will be at all bothered if we are no longer allowed to leave our homes?

Lauder Eric

13th March 2020 at 10:52 pm

Italy here.
I’m going to mock you when this thing will end: I’m going to mock your deads and your cluelessness.
Prepare for it.

Ven Oods

14th March 2020 at 8:56 am

If you were seeking to make a point there, it escaped me.
I could only guess that you’re in Italy, that you object to the way the country is being portrayed in our media, and that you will, in turn, laugh at our own infection rates when they rise.
In which case, a couple of points:
1. I don’t see anyone laughing or mocking Italy and its Covid-19 death toll
2. If it’s true that the virus came to Italy via (probably illegal) factory workers from Wuhan, then it’s your government and its agencies that deserve your scorn.

Gareth Edward KING

13th March 2020 at 10:31 pm

The contrast with Spain could not be greater. Today, a ‘state of alarm’ was decreed in Madrid (6.1 million) as well as the Basque Country (2 m), plus Igualada prov. Barcelona one of Catalonia’s larger cities. Despite Madrid being the focus of Covid-19 contagiousness with about half of the nation’s 145 deaths (5,500 cases nationwide) there isn’t any sense of panic in the capital itself, few people can be seen with a surgical mask on, and bars and restaurants remain open, at least until tomorrow. The ambience reminds me of that after the March 2004 terrorist atrocities. There certainly isn’t any of the nastiness being described here as in Italy and the police aren’t controlling people’s identity on the street. I get the impression that people have understood that more than 90% of patients are well over 65 years old. For this reason, I don’t think it was necessary to close schools and universities as from last Monday.

Why the difference? the death rate in Italy is more than 800! So, authoritarian measures obviously don’t work. It could be that the Spanish health service is probably the best in the world despite recent cutbacks. I wouldn’t want to be in the Oct. 12th Hospital, Madrid though as there are patients being treated in corridors.


14th March 2020 at 10:25 am

I know they just need to suspend Habeas Corpus and we have full on early 19th century authoritarianism-but that was a result of Napoleanic Wars -Peterloo for example was an illegal gathering. If this virus really is the Black Death I would like to know so I can settle my affairs and decide which relations to annoy with my Will etc not waste time on supermarket sweep.

John Pretty

14th March 2020 at 6:15 pm

“If this virus really is the Black Death I would like to know”


Apart from anything else the Black Death was caused by a bacteria not a virus. Scientific name of the plague bacterium is “Yersinia Pestis”

Bacteria and viruses are very different beasts. Viruses are much smaller to begin with.

This virus only kills about 3% of those that get it and those are individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Fighting infections is stressful on the body, which is why you usually feel shit for a few days and why those who are already weak sometimes succomb to them.

John Pretty

13th March 2020 at 7:32 pm

I’m afraid I have to disagree with Ella Whelan. There is much irrational fear surrounding this issue. And I hate to agree with Donald Trump, but the flu is worse. Fact. I refuse to be fear mobbed into going along with this mindless sheepery.

You can easily check to see that this virus in over 100,000 cases has thus far killed nobody under the age of 9, and that most deaths are in the over 65 age bracket. (Probably as they are rather more likely to be already weakened by a chronic illness.) So why are schools being shut? It makes no common sense whatsoever.

Those with chronic illnesses and who are over the age of 75 should probably reduce direct social contact until this blows over. The rest of us should just be getting on with living.

The only real difference that I can see between this and the flu is that these days you can get a jab for the flu. 50 years ago you couldn’t. Did we panic then?

The real issue here to me seems to be our modern consumerist demand for an over-the-counter cure. Never mind that many of us don’t have the flu jab and the CDC puts annual flu deaths at half a million give or take a hundred thousand (well, who’s counting?) How dare this virus rob us of our rights!? We demand our vaccination on demand!

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