Madeiran student Jéssica Agrela says she experienced “terror” in Brescia, in the Lombardy region of Italy, where the covid-19 pandemic is most felt, both in positive cases and in the number of deaths.
Jéssica Agrela, 21 years old, born in the parish of Arco-da-Calheta, in Calheta, returned to Madeira on Tuesday after 33 days of social isolation with her friend Francisca Abreu, 20, also from the island, but from Câmara de Lobos, and together they staged an “odyssey” to leave Italy in a state of emergency.
These Madeiran students are taking a degree in violin and mandolin at the Luca Marenzio Conservatory in Brescia, province of Lombardy, in northern Italy, where, according to statistics from the Italian Ministry of Health, on Tuesday there were 43,000 cases positive.
The province of Brescia, with more than eight thousand cases, is the third most contagious area in that region.
With no family around, the girls were closed at home, afraid to go out and constantly hear the sirens of ambulances passing by.
“I’m in the first year of my degree and Francisca in the second, we lived in different houses, about 20 minutes from the school and, until mid-February, things were going well until the first cases and the subsequent state of emergency appeared , with mandatory quarantines, ”said Jéssica Agrela to Lusa.
“The school closed, we started taking classes through a digital platform and we decided to get together since our Italian friends decided to head south, where, at the time, the situation was not so problematic. We went shopping to avoid leaving home, we did it again on March 11th and then, we never left again except to catch the train already during the process of returning to Portugal ”, he added.
In the beginning, the young women tried to entertain themselves at home, since “the school was extending the opening week by week”.
“As we had scheduled exams, we stayed there”, but the situation “became more difficult” and the Madeirans decided to get down to work and try to return home.
Jessica told Lusa that the “teachers themselves also advised them to leave because the situation was getting worse and worse”.
They first resorted to the Portuguese Embassy in Rome, which forwarded them to the support line for covid-19. Then they appealed to the General Directorate for Higher Education, which forwarded their request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which contacted them on March 18, informing them that they were already on a list for repatriation.
A week later, they were contacted again by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform them that they had arranged a Rome-London-Lisbon airline ticket.
“They arranged the trip for us, I think it was a miracle,” said Jéssica Agrela.
The “epic”, however, did not stop there: Considering the possibility of a taxi to go to Rome, this was soon eliminated because it was “too expensive”. So they decided to take a train from Brescia to Bologna, making a stop in Milan.
“In Bologna we spent a night at the station and in Rome we had to take a taxi to the airport because the trains were already canceled. We spent a second night in the dark, only this time in the company of other Erasmo students, ”he said.
“Then we took the flight to London and another to Lisbon, which went well,” he said.
Jessica says that in Rome their fever was measured and they did not authorize to board without a mask.
In London, said the student, “there is no control”, just like at Humberto Delgado Airport, in Lisbon.
“We thought we were going to be controlled since we were coming from Italy”, but I left as if nothing was, I was extremely shocked that Portugal did not adopt security measures “, she confessed.
Jéssica Agrela then spent two days in Lisbon at the home of Francisca’s family, who chose to stay in the Portuguese capital.
“Even without a ticket, I took a chance, went to the airport and got a trip to return to Madeira,” he said.
When he arrived on the island, his temperature was measured, he “had to fill out a form, asked questions and signed a confidentiality document, in which he undertook to comply with the quarantine under penalty of sanctions, pecuniary or imprisonment”.
Jéssica says she has no doubts that there are “security measures on arrival in Madeira”, considering them “the best process to guarantee safety to those who travel and the population”.
“It is a very responsible attitude”, he stressed.
“I am aware of reality because I lived it, I know what we are dealing with. I saw the terror, ”said the young woman.
Jéssica Agrela is fulfilling the mandatory social isolation in a tourist unit in Santa Cruz, which, until April 13, will be “her home”.
The student appreciates the support and guidance that the regional authorities and, particularly, the Regional Directorate for Communities provided to them.
“They followed us step by step. That’s why I got here, ”he said.
The new coronavirus, responsible for the covid-19 pandemic, has already infected more than 828,000 people worldwide, of whom more than 41,000 died.
In Portugal, according to the balance drawn up today by the Directorate-General for Health, there were 187 deaths, 27 more than the day before, and 8,251 confirmed infections, which represents an increase of 808 compared to Tuesday.