Stanthorpe teacher issues plea from Italy lockdown

PLANS to embark on a five-continent journey across the world were quickly cut short for a Stanthorpe teacher, trapped in what would be anyone's worst nightmare.

Stanthorpe State High School teacher Julia Bert is on the front line of the COVID-19 war, watching the tragedy unfold right in front of her eyes.

Ms Bert took leave from the high school in February, planning to tick several countries off her list of must sees.

But her journey took a quick turn for the worst after less than a month while visiting family in Lombardy, Italy.

Watching the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia from a far, concerns for her Stanthorpe community quickly grew as she believed they were 'underestimating the epidemic'.

STRANDED: Stanthorpe State High School Italian teacher Julia Bert is on lock down from COVID-19 in Italy.
STRANDED: Stanthorpe State High School Italian teacher Julia Bert is on lock down from COVID-19 in Italy.

"It's currently a race against time to 'flatten the curve' and slow the spread and impact of the virus.

"Other countries watching from afar can still avoid to wake up in a few weeks in a war-torn country where the death toll keeps climbing by the hour and the streets are deserted.

"Everyone must play a role in fighting the contagion, starting from our leaders, who can't sacrifice the most vulnerable fear of the short-term economic consequences of implementing the right policies."

She said in Lombardy alone, more than 900 patients have been affected by the coronavirus and are currently in ICU (Intensive Care Unit).

"Despite the effort to expand intensive care units, beds are starting to run out and doctors might soon have to choose who they can treat in ICU based on their chances of success," she said.

"The mortality rate is significantly higher for the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

"But we also have teenagers and young people attached to a ventilator and perfectly healthy people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who (have) died," she said.

Ms Bert said it's a fine balancing act between protecting people's income and protecting people's health.

"Individuals must change their behaviour to protect not only themselves, but others."

She stressed the fact of not only washing your hands but avoiding crowds, working from home, not traveling and to cancel all social gatherings and events.

"Events like this remind you that you are a member of society and must respect and look after each other.

"If you want to win this war, you must be united in purpose and spirit, though physically distant."

Uncertain as to when she can continue her around the world journey, one thing she does know is everyone will have to play their own part to make it out onto the other side.

"A popular post that has been shared a thousand times in Italy in the last few days says, 'our grandparents have been asked to go to war, we have simply been asked to relax on the couch'.

"This might very well be my generation's war, and I truly hope we'll win it together."