Kaila Haines is a US citizen married to an Italian man and has been living in Italy for 30 years. She lives in Monfalcone, east of Venice, where her husband is undergoing self-imposed quarantine after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but is currently stuck in Milan, where she was working when the quarantine came into force. Here she describes the situation:

I work in Milan Monday to Friday and go back on the weekend. My husband is a university professor in Venice.

In recent months we’ve been hearing about these cases but it’s been pretty much business as usual. About one in 10 people have been in masks, but it’s been very laid-back despite all the hype and doom and gloom on the news.

But then at the beginning of last week, my husband came down with the fever.

The health ministry has asked anybody who has a fever or flu-like symptoms just to isolate themselves. Let’s not take any chances, stay home for 20 days. So that’s what he did.

I was supposed to be going home this past weekend and did not because he was sick and in isolation. Then I got stuck here in Milan because over the weekend they imposed this shutdown in the Lombardy region.

So I’m here until 3 April but he’ll come out of isolation on 20 March. It’s very surreal.

I went out yesterday morning to the grocery store because I was kind of curious to see if everyone was making a run on pasta and things like that. You read the newspapers and that’s what everyone is saying.

The situation was quite tense because there was a person on the loudspeaker who was reminding everyone in the store every 30 seconds that they had to keep their one-metre distance from each other.

They were quite aggressively inviting everyone to keep their distance. That was quite an unusual feeling.

But overall there was no run on the supermarket. Everyone was just like me, running out of milk and getting a few things they needed for the weekend. From that respect it was pretty relaxed.

Then I walked down one of the main shopping roads and about 70% of the stores were closed.

The bars were open. It was a gorgeous day so everyone was out on their bicycles.

Most of the bars have tables outside and I could see they had distanced the tables, so there are less tables than there used to be. There were people having their coffee on the sidewalk at their little cafe, so it was very relaxed.

There wasn’t a sense of panic or urgency. I think it might take a while for people to realise they need to be a little more careful in keeping their distance and things like that.

This week I’m on vacation but I will have to work from home. I’m taking it in my stride.

My husband only had a fever for a few days. He has a little bit of a cough and he’s going a little stir crazy. We have neighbours who are doing the grocery shopping and leaving it at the door for him.

He said he’s going to have to learn how to cook – he doesn’t know how to cook.

We celebrated our 30th anniversary in September.

It’s not been easy. It’s been a challenging year for us in general because I got a promotion and now we see each other on the weekends, but now it’s tough.

Thank goodness for WhatsApp.

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