At the end of February, Italy asked for urgent help to deal with the spread of the new Coronavirus but the countries of the European Union ignored the request while the virus was crossing the Continent. The British newspaper The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed today reconstructing the first stages of the pandemic in Europe and the initial lack of coordination in the response among the European institutions.
The British newspaper explains step by step how Europe has become the epicenter of the pandemic after China and denounces the shocking silence with which the EU has welcomed the Rome’s request, when the number of infections in Italy tripled every 48 hours. The Guardian writes that, on February 26, an urgent message was sent from Rome to the European Commission at the Berlaymont building in Brussels. The specifications of what Italy needed were uploaded on the EU’s Cecis system (Common Emergency Communication and Information System).
According to Brussels Commissioner for Emergency Management, Janez Lenarcic, there would have been no “lack of solidarity” at the origin of European silence before the demands of the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Lenarcic explained to the authors of the investigation that support to Italy didn’t arrive due to “lack of equipment”. “It was not only Italy that was not prepared nobody was,” the EU commissioner reiterated. The EU was unprepared from the earliest stages of what would later in March be declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The investigation also shows that Italy did not take part in a first meeting called by the European Commission for health security, on 17 January, because the officials in charge did not notice the email inviting the meeting. Among the topics discussed during the talks, there was also the management of direct flights from Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, to three European cities: London, Paris and Rome.
Some 180,000 European citizens, across the European economic area and the UK, have died from coronavirus and 1.6 million have been infected since the disease crept on to the continent in December last year courtesy of a mystery patient zero.The true number of deaths is almost certainly higher than so far recorded.