By James Martin
In deeply moving scenes repeated across locked-down Italy and Spain, quarantined residents have taken to their balconies in a show of solidarity and defiance against coronavirus.
The two countries have become the European epicentre of coronavirus, with almost all aspects of normal life halted by attempts to slow the outbreak, forcing Spaniards and Italians into extreme measures just to socialise.
In Madrid and other cities, people came out onto their balconies at 10pm on Saturday to applaud frontline medics, in response to a call from social media and WhatApp.
— Alejandro Montero (@Alejandro_MOrti) March 14, 2020
In the northeastern city of Pamplona on Sunday evening, people on balconies showed their support by singing traditional Basque songs.
Spain’s 47 million people have been under partial lockdown since Saturday night, allowed to leave their homes only to go to work, buy food or visit a pharmacy or hospital.
Spain has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. The government’s official coronavirus death toll rose to 297 on Monday, with 8,744 confirmed cases of infection.
In neighbouring Italy, a video of quarantined Italians singing to each other across deserted streets from their windows, balconies and doorways during the coronavirus lockdown quickly spread across social media.
David Allegranti, a writer for Il Foglio newspaper, shared footage of residents’ stirring rendition of a local folk song in the northern city of Siena on Twitter Thursday night.
A Siena, città alla quale sono molto legato, si sta in casa ma si canta insieme come se si fosse per la strada. Mi sono commosso pic.twitter.com/IDPqNEj3h3
— David Allegranti (@davidallegranti) March 12, 2020
“This video is touching,” Rome-based Allegranti told HuffPost via email on Friday. “The first time I saw it I started to cry.”
HuffPost Italy also posted a video of Naples residents singing from their high-rise balconies.
Italians are trying to keep their spirits up as the numbers of new infections continue to skyrocket.
Several times a day messages pass around on social media for people to gather on their balconies and sing, applaud, light a candle or play an instrument.
In many places, including Rome’s Viale Marconi on Sunday evening, residents sang the Italian national anthem.
Italy on Sunday reported its highest day-to-day increase with 3,590 additional confirmed cases in a 24-hour period, raising the total number of cases to 24,747, with 1,809 fatalities.
But balcony activities haven’t stopped at singing. HuffPost Spain also reported discos…
and even gym classes, like this one in Seville, have become features of neighbourhood spirit.
Una clase de gym para los vecinos ?? pic.twitter.com/3cbkMU91G2
— awesome (@Rous4000) March 14, 2020
With files from AP and Reuters