Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsay went inside a hospital in Bergamo in Italy during the week and the footage he captured is as powerful as it is utterly disturbing.
Outside of China, Italy has more cases of the Coronavirus than anywhere else and it has now recorded more deaths than China too.
There are 47,021 cases in Italy and 4.032 people have now died in a little over two weeks.
The ICU unit in this hospital where Sky News visited is full and such is the sudden surge in cases that people who should be in isolation are being treated side by side in wards and waiting rooms.
How did this happen? How have things spiraled so badly out of control in Italy?
The reason why Italy is suffering so badly, write University of Oxford researchers in a new paper in the journal Demographic Science, may be twofold: The country has the second-oldest population on earth, and its young tend to mingle more often with the elderly, like their grandparents.
And if that is the case, it brings us back to Ireland and indeed Laois where it highlights the need for all of us to practice social distancing in a bid to ‘flatten the curve’.
We’ve heard a lot of new phrases in the last few weeks but for those who don’t know, flattening the curve is all about spreading out the number of cases of Coronavirus over a longer period of time so that health care workers don’t become overwhelmed like they are in Italy where they are essentially having to make decisions about who they can help and who they allow to die.
On March 12, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the closure of all schools and colleges with the closure of pubs following suit a few days later.
People have been asked to keep their distance from each other, wash their hands regularly and practice social distancing.
But have they done it? The anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of people, young and old, are doing what they are asked but unfortunately some are not and their actions are putting everyone else at risk.
In a passionate speech yesterday in the Seanad, Tanaiste Simon Coveney said some young people are ignoring social distancing recommendations and called out people who are not taking Covid-19 seriously.
He said: “Social distancing matters, it is not a theory, it is a protection and we need to confront our families and our peers and our communities to make sure everybody takes that seriously.
“If we do we will save lives, thousands of them. For those people who are not taking this seriously we need to change the conversation to ensure that they do.”
He said they had to speaking particularly to “teenagers hanging out together in people’s homes or on street corners, interacting and socialising and chatting as they would normally do”.
They should be asked “If you have an option to throw a lifeline to a loved one in a vulnerable group who may be drowning will you do it?”
He said it “sounds like we’re living in a movie set, but believe me when we look back in six weeks’ time or 12 weeks’ time we’ll wish we’d done more, and we’ll wish we’d confronted those kids on a street corner or at the end of a housing estate who are gathering under a tree or under a light or wherever”.
Here in LaoisToday, we’ve been contacted by people in different parts of the county who are worried about this too.
Minister for Health Simon Harris echoed this: “We need to do better at social distancing. We really do. The guidelines are clear – keep your distance. And that includes when outside.”
In Portlaoise, one person said she encountered several groups of youths congregating together while making her way to collect some shopping from a supermarket.
While in Durrow, there were reports of groups of youths gathering in the village and throwing balls at oncoming traffic.
The Coronavirus will not last forever but it is going to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future.
So far in Ireland, we have over 600 cases and three deaths. We have somewhere between one and five cases in Laois.
The medical experts are asking us all to engage in social distancing at this time so that the amount of cases of the virus are spread out and they have a better chance at keeping people who become infected alive.
It will not kill you to do as they ask for the next while – but it may kill somebody else if you don’t.