A longtime Yellowknifer and senior citizen is in lockdown in northern Italy due to the global spread of Covid-19.

Carla Pagotto, 74, who winters every year at her birthplace in San Fior – in the province of Treviso – has been alone at her winter home since the Italian government announced a nationwide lockdown on Monday.

Italy has been reported as the second-most impacted country in the world next to China due to the virus.

Carla Pagotta is in lockdown in San Fior, the town in Northern Italy where she winters every year.
photo courtesy of Taylor Pagotto

Pagotto, a resident of Niven Lake, left for her annual winter trip in December and was expected to return at the first of April.

Carla contacted Yellowknifer by email on Friday morning to update her situation.

“I am worr(ied) and want to go back to Canada!” she stated in the email. “I feel I am in house arrest as we have to stay home and police/urban police are everywhere and need paperwork if going to grocery store etc.”

Carla also stated that the local governor in Treviso is addressing a shortage of masks and respiratory machines.

“I’m passing the time reading online etc. (and) try(ing) to phone Air Canada to change my flights but (it is) busy, busy,” she stated.

Pagotto’s grandson and roommate Taylor has been in touch with Carla every couple of days, especially over the last two weeks as concerns of the spread of Coronavirus have increased and since local quarantines began in the country in mid to late February.

People in lockdown have had to stay in their homes and few amenities are available, beyond grocery stores, Taylor explained. He added that people need permits to be able to go to the next town – even if only a few kilometres away – and services like hairdressers, restaurants and pubs are not accessible.

The situation further worsened after Air Canada announced that it was suspending all flights to Italy as of March 11. 

There was some hope a few weeks ago that the situation was improving but the lockdown has since only grown tighter.

“A few weeks ago they reopened schools in Italy and they had thought it was pretty much done with,” Taylor said during a phone interview Wednesday.

“But I said no, ‘keep paying attention because I’m still concerned.’ A few days after that, the whole province was quarantined and then the country. I never assumed the Italian government had any control of the situation and I still don’t.

“She is bored and depressed. She is very optimistic but I’m mostly worried because she is going through this alone. My biggest concern is that I don’t know when she is going to be allowed to leave.”

Longtime Yellowknife senior citizen Carla Pagotto typically winters in San Fior, Italy. This year, due to the global spread of Covid 19, she is in lockdown all by herself.
photo sourced from Google Maps

Taylor said his grandmother knew about the virus when heading for Italy in December but they weren’t overly concerned at the time because cases were largely confined to China.

“These things tend to come and go,” Taylor said, noting H1N1 and MERS as examples.

“So it was just before I would have started worrying a lot. Now it is just a totally different situation and things have changed quite a bit.

“She was expected to come back in the first week of April and that is when the quarantine is supposed to be lifted, but that is pretty tentative.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who himself went into self-isolation with his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau after his wife reported symptoms, announced on Thursday that he has been in contact with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Taylor said he was looking for answers and help from leaders and added that he reached out to Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North. He told him to contact NWT MP Michael McLeod’s office, he said.

Yellowknifer asked McLeod’s office what a resident can do in the Pagotto situation and executive assistant Hayden Moher recommended in an email Thursday that Canadians requiring emergency consular service should reach out to Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Pagotto is a longtime Yellowknifer who came North with her late husband Camillo after getting married in 1961. They later had two children Daniel and Steven.

Camillo worked as a miner at Con and Giant Mines until 1992 and passed away in 2009. Carla has been spending more time in Italy ever since.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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