Aussie girl’s life inside virus death centre
Italy's unprecedented shutdown has no end in sight, with the daily death toll remaining stubbornly high despite the best efforts of the nation's 60 million people to lockdown to halt its spread.
Australian Olivia Windsor, 26, has been one of those waiting for the outbreak to ease.
She has spent three weeks under the tough restrictions in the house that she has been sharing with her new boyfriend and his mum.
The first two weeks at least they were able to go for a walk in the nearby fields and open space in Chieri, about 30 minutes outside Turin in northern Italy.
Now, the only escape is the courtyard of the two-bedroom townhouse that she moved into with her law student boyfriend of five months, Andrea, 25, and his mother Federica, 60.
"I really don't know what's going to happen with the quarantine, it was meant to end on April 3 but no new date has been announced," Ms Windsor said.
"If the death toll starts to come down then hopefully they will start relaxing some of the rules.
"I don't think things will go back to normal again … for most of April we might be home as well."
Italy's death toll has soared by thousands this week, with 683 deaths on Friday Australian time, with a total of 8, 215 (Friday morning Australian) time.
There had been some hope of a downward trend when only 601 died in figures released on Monday.
But that may have been a blip in record keeping because it went back up to 743 the next day.
Chieir, in the north of the country, where Ms Windsor, a digital marketer, lives was near the centre of the outbreak, in Bergamo, two hours to the east.
There police cars patrol the streets with loud speakers ordering people to stay inside.
Anyone caught outside without being on an errand to pick up food, medicine or go to essential work has been risking fines of up to $5400AUD.
Masks are worn on the streets and the supermarket run has felt like a game of Russian roulette.
Andrea has been taking on the food runs, also picking up groceries for their elderly neighbours who are too scared to leave the house.
The fatality rate in Italy from coronavirus is 10 per cent, compared with just 0.6 per cent in Germany.
Ms Windsor, who grew up in Coburg in Melbourne and attended Mercy College and RMIT before getting a job at Mecca Cosmetica, said she was grateful she was not alone in her coronavirus isolation.
"The first two weeks were OK but you could still go out to exercise," she said.
"Ten minutes up the road there is some farmland and some fields to walk in where you wouldn't come into contact with anyone. It was necessary for mental health support."
The plan was to spend time in Italy learning the language and being a foodie, not spend weeks on end stuck in a townhouse.
But Ms Windsor, who moved overseas in May last year, managed to pick up a job at an eyewear company based in Turin.
The first permanent day was in the office where she picked up a laptop, and day two and ever since then have been in the small townhouse she shares.
Andrea has continued studying his law degree and his mother has also been working home, so they have been lucky to keep jobs as the Italian economy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.
Ms Windsor had been due to move into a new apartment when the lockdown began, but she couldn't take up the rental because of the lockdown.
"We had only been together five months, it was early days, I didn't expect we'd be living with each other 24/7," she said.
Cleaning is a constant battle in lockdown, but they have been chipping away at it each day and then doing a major spring clean on weekends.
There have been many phone calls with family in Australia. Andrea's dad lives in Turin and has been quarantined on his own but WhatsApp has been a lifeline.
Ms Windsor's parents in Melbourne have been worried about her, but she decided to stay.
Her childhood home has a bed in it but it has become the makeshift exercise room for her siblings.
So far, no one in her family in Australia or her new adopted family has been struck down by the virus.
Just a few weeks ago, she was going travelling when the lockdown was announced.
"It all just exploded," she said.
Now, there could be a further long wait until people are allowed back on the streets again, let alone before they settle into a new normal.
Originally published as Aussie girl's life inside the COVID-19 death centre