Italians living in the United Kingdom don’t trust the British government to manage the Coronavirus emergency, and if they had to choose where to be treated, they would prefer to be in an Italian hospital rather than in a NHS one.
These are the results that emerge from an exclusive online survey carried out by our website between Friday 20 and Monday 23 March, based on more than 900 responses.
Overall, the Italians in UK rate very poorly Boris Johnson’s government with regards to coronavirus. 79% of people replied that they did not trust the way the UK government is handling the emergency, pointing out that very few preventive measures were adopted and too late. 64% believe that the actions taken by the government are not the right ones (a figure that has slightly decreased in the last hours of the survey, after Johnson’s announcement to put the country in lockdown).
In their comments, Italians expressed their frustration with the softness and tardiness with which Her Majesty’s government acted, despite clear evidences coming from other countries. “Too much permissiveness”, “Too mild measures and taken too late”, “A closure must be imposed, not ‘suggested’”, “Total lockdown: it was not done in Bergamo and now the situation is heart-breaking, the British government should have learned from our mistakes. “
According to the respondents to the survey, however, the British people are be to blamed more than the Government. 89% of participants believe that the British citizens haven’t realised the seriousness of the situation, as evidenced by the general absence of precaution despite repeated calls for “social distancing” and the thousands of deaths in other countries.
In the comparison between the two countries, Italy prevails, perhaps for emotional and family reasons. Answering the question “In this moment of crisis, if you could choose where would you like to be?”, 63% replied that they would rather be in Italy, against 14% who feel more comfortable in the United Kingdom, while 23% say they have no preference between the two nations.
The preference appears even more clear when looking at health systems. To the question “If you were to get sick of Covid-19 and need hospitalization, where would you prefer to be treated?” 71% choose the Italian National Health System against a 6% who would prefer the NHS, while a 23% say they have no preference.
In the background, for many there is the idea (or the desire) of returning to Italy. One Italian out of five (20%) declares that they are trying to return to Italy, citing practical difficulties with jobs or rental, and among the comments there are many who say they are waiting for the end of the emergency to go back to their country of origin.
The survey participants confirmed the logistical problems related to panic buying. 73% say they have difficulty finding food and health products. The list of products reported as unobtainable is very long: pasta, rice, bread, flour, eggs, long-life milk, baby food, legumes, peeled tomatoes, toilet paper, detergents, liquid soap, sanitary towels, diapers, sanitizing gel but also medicines like Paracetamol, a real panacea in the United Kingdom. Some people complain about shops inflating prices for speculative reasons while other point out the practical impossibility of shopping online “I can’t even find a slot to receive shopping at home … there is nothing available before late April . “
Less than half of the Italians interviewed seem to have acted in time on time stockpiling, with only 43% of respondents saying they have enough supplies at home to withstand two weeks of self-isolation without having to shop for food. The others indicate that they are ready to go out anyway, despite the lock-down, ask family and friends for help, and resort to online shopping where possible.
Overall, reading the comments the prevailing mood is of concern, stress, uncertainty for the future, with an almost total absence of irony and lightness. There are those who quotes the dystopian tv series Black Mirror, those who consider the situation surreal, those who admit to having panic crisis and those who say they pray constantly.
Among the many comments, we choose one from a young woman, who describes the situation with a mix of sharpness and bitterness: “In general, from what I can see on my workplace and around, nobody seems to have understood the seriousness of the situation. Bulk buying is out of control, they are buying basic necessities, but in the meantime they joke and laugh over it as if all this was fun, a game. They do not understand that supermarkets would remain open during a possible general lockdown. I keep seeing a lot of old people around as if they didn’t care, they think that having survived the Second World War they can survive anything. At work I am mocked because I wear a mask and gloves, customers continue to come very near me and do not understand the need to keep their distance. This whole situation is very frustrating, and the government is treating it just as lightly. I hoped that by looking at Italy they would understand, but apparently they didn’t. “