Italy's lockdown: just rockin' the quarantine away


Life inside a red zone: A group of young people hang out listening to dance music on a boombox, by a train track in San Fiorano, one of the towns on lockdown due to a coronavirus outbreak, in this picture taken by schoolteacher Marzio Toniolo in San Fiorano, Italy, February 28, 2020. Marzio Toniolo via REUTERS

SAN FIORANO, Italy (Reuters) - Teenagers with bottles of beer in their hands listen to loud music on a patchy lawn as a train speeds by the northern Italian town of San Fiorano, in a "red zone" - one of the areas placed under quarantine at the heart of Italy's coronavirus outbreak.

The Civil Protection Agency said on Monday the total number of confirmed cases in Italy had jumped to 2,036 from the 1,694 reported on Sunday. Fifty-two have died.

As Italy struggles to contain Europe's worst outbreak of the influenza-like disease, the government has placed some 50,000 people in 11 towns under quarantine.

One of those is Marzio Toniolo, a 35-year-old teacher who uses his mobile phone to send Reuters daily accounts and videos of life in the red zone.

A presenter on Radio Sange, an internet-based station that provides some distraction from boredom for the trapped residents, asks listeners: "Which red zone is the coolest?"

"Who wins between Casale and Codogno?" another says.

The 11th day of Toniolo's video and picture diary shows that some of San Fiorano's shops are starting to reopen, although they have to abide by strict safety rules.

"You must wear gloves and a (protective) mask at all times, and only two people may enter at a time," say two notices fixed to a shop window.

But behind closed doors and in the evenings, things are a little different.

In Toniolo's house, the family gets together to make ravioli with grandmother Ines Prandini, 85. When the job is done, they clink glasses.

At night, other groups of people meet to eat together in the open air, or at a bus stop. Everyone brings something different: cheese, bread or wine. An impromptu street party takes place with no one wearing masks.

Toniolo says many inhabitants worry about how they will be viewed once their quarantine is over.

"There is a fear that there could be 'racist' feelings towards the inhabitants who come from these zones," he says.

(Reporting by Eleanor Biles, Cristiano Corvino and Antonio Denti; writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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