‘Hard not to worry’: Weyburn grad student staying in Milan amid COVID-19 outbreak in Italy

A woman from Weyburn, Sask., is in limbo as COVID-19 — a strain of coronavirus — spreads in Italy.

Kate Andrews is a masters student at Bocconi University in Milan. While there’s no reported outbreak in the capital, about a dozen towns, many surrounding Milan, are on lockdown.

“I’m not too worried, honestly,” Andrews said.

Andrews is one of the last students in her class of 42 not to leave the city. She said the school emailed her on Saturday saying her classes were suspended for the week. Universities within the capital have taken this step as a precaution against the virus.

“I could leave still,” she said. “A lot of my colleagues, my classmates, have left the city, but for me, I’m hopeful that our classes will start again shortly and in the meantime, I just wanted to wait and stay here.”

Over 320 cases have broken out in the European country, and officials say 10 people have died.

“It’s definitely on everyone’s minds, and we’re trying to be careful with washing our hands,” she said.

“You do see some people in the streets wearing masks, but … in terms of where the cases have been so far, I don’t know if it’s very realistic that I am in immediate danger of that.”

Andrews said the capital is far from a ghost town, and while she does see people on the street, she says there are less than usual.

“You notice it, especially waiting for the tram or around the tourist attractions, there are a lot less people. But there’s still, I’d say, lots of people,” she said.

People are wearing masks, Andrews said, and stores shelves are being stripped bare.

“It’s hard not to worry a little bit, but I’ve been keeping in contact with people who are quite calm and trying to not isolate myself too much so that I can at least be talking with friends and things like that,” she said. “That helps.”

An update on Bocconi University’s website dated Feb. 25 reads, “for the current week — and limited to the weeks that may see similar suspension of classroom teaching — distance learning activities will be introduced.”

These lessons include videos and extra reading material.

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