Italy has been trying to send us a warning. Will we listen?

Italians, their country locked down with the world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 infections after China, are sounding a dire warning for other countries about what could be in store for them if they don’t take the pandemic seriously.

Italy’s coronavirus infections have surpassed 24,000. Over the weekend, the country reported 368 deaths in 24 hours ― a toll that exceeded China’s highest single-day number at the height of its outbreak, according to The New York Times.

Humbled by the experience of showing the world what not to do, quarantined Italians, including health care workers, are sharing what they’ve learned, admonishing people to take the virus seriously and to heed advice not to gather.

“In Italy we waited too long, these countries should really start implementing aggressive containment measures now,” Italian researcher Silvia Merler wrote on Twitter last week. She posted a “lag tracker” graphic showing COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and other countries are now following the trajectory of the outbreak in Italy 13 to 16 days earlier.

Other Italians also are using Twitter to tell people that their situation is “not good” and that they should learn from Italy’s “mistakes.

Dr. Marco Vergano, an anesthetist at San Giovanni Bosco hospital in Turin, told HuffPost via email that it’s “evident” to him that “acting like a community, rather than personally feeling violated in individual freedom will be more difficult for Americans than for Europeans.”

Americans, Vergano said, “should stop believing that COVID-19 is a ‘bad flu’” and “stop circulating low quality information and ‘fake news.’”

The U.S. “should abandon woefully incompetent political leaders, that in an unprecedented emergency like this can lead the country to a catastrophe,” Vergano advised. “They should not panic; but in case restrictive measures are difficult to enforce without panic, well... then a bit of ‘fruitful panic’ may be useful!” He said Americans should take “advantage of the few weeks between Italy and US.”

24 PHOTOS
Italy weeks into COVID-19 epidemic
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Italy weeks into COVID-19 epidemic
Medical workers in overalls stretch a patient under intensive care into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
MOLINETTE HOSPITAL, TURIN, ITALY - 2020/03/16: A banner reading 'Thanks for what you are doing' hangs outside emergency room of hospital Molinette to thank doctors, nurses and others medical workers. The Italian government imposed unprecedented restrictions to halt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, among other measures people movements are allowed only for work, for buying essential goods and for health reasons. (Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MOLINETTE HOSPITAL, TURIN, ITALY - 2020/03/16: A nurse measures temperature of a man for pre triage, to carry out coronavirus infection control tests. The Italian government imposed unprecedented restrictions to halt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, among other measures people movements are allowed only for work, for buying essential goods and for health reasons. (Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
CORIGLIANO-ROSSANO, CALABRIA, ITALY - 2020/03/16: People keeping a safe distance queuing outside a post office wearing a mask for fear of Coronavirus infection (COVID-19). (Photo by Alfonso Di Vincenzo/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A medical worker wearing a face mask and overalls drives an ambulance into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman walks her dogs across the deserted surroundings of the closed Colosseum monument on March 16, 2020 in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers in overalls stretch a patient under intensive care into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
A mural by artist Franco Rivolli Art, depicting a nurse wearing a face mask, with wings behind her back and cradling Italy, is pictured on a wall of the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Lombardy, on March 16, 2020. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images)
NAPLES, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2020/03/16: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created with a drone.) View of the empty Dante Alighieri square in Naples city, after the Italian government has imposed unprecedented national restrictions on controlling the coronavirus COVID 19. (Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A hearse transporting a coffin enters the Monumental cemetery of Bergamo, Lombardy, as relatives of a deceased person walk outside on March 16, 2020, while burials of people who died of the new coronavirus are being conducted at the rythm of one every half hour. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP) (Photo by PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers in overalls stretch a patient under intensive care into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents on window and balconies sing 'Il cielo sempre piu blu' (The sky becomes more and more blue) during a flash mob to raise morale as the lock down continues due to the coronavirus outbreak to the Garbatella neighbourhood on March 16, 2020, in Rome, Italy. The Italian Government has taken the unprecedented measure of a nationwide lockdown by closing all businesses except essential services such as, pharmacies, grocery stores, hardware stores and tobacconists and banks, in an effort to fight the world's second-most deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak outside of China. The movements in and out are allowed only for work and health reasons proven by a medical certificate. The number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease in Italy has jumped up to at least 27.980 while the death toll have reached 2158. (Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Residents on window and balconies sing 'Il cielo sempre piu blu' (The sky becomes more and more blue) during a flash mob to raise morale as the lock down continues due to the coronavirus outbreak to the Garbatella neighbourhood on March 16, 2020, in Rome, Italy. The Italian Government has taken the unprecedented measure of a nationwide lockdown by closing all businesses except essential services such as, pharmacies, grocery stores, hardware stores and tobacconists and banks, in an effort to fight the world's second-most deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak outside of China. The movements in and out are allowed only for work and health reasons proven by a medical certificate. The number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease in Italy has jumped up to at least 27.980 while the death toll have reached 2158. (Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Residents on window and balconies sing 'Il cielo sempre piu blu' (The sky becomes more and more blue) during a flash mob to raise morale as the lock down continues due to the coronavirus outbreak to the Garbatella neighbourhood on March 16, 2020, in Rome, Italy. The Italian Government has taken the unprecedented measure of a nationwide lockdown by closing all businesses except essential services such as, pharmacies, grocery stores, hardware stores and tobacconists and banks, in an effort to fight the world's second-most deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak outside of China. The movements in and out are allowed only for work and health reasons proven by a medical certificate. The number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease in Italy has jumped up to at least 27.980 while the death toll have reached 2158. (Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A medical worker in overalls exits an ambulance outside the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - MARCH 16: Giulia Baini, 24, a volunteer from the Community of Sant'Egidio, speaks to Giovanna, a frail elderly woman of 82 years of age during a home-care service on March 16, 2020 in Rome, Italy. The Italian Government has taken the unprecedented measure of a nationwide lockdown by closing all businesses except essential services such as, pharmacies, grocery stores, hardware stores, tobacconists and banks, in an effort to fight the world's second-most deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak outside of China. Journeys are allowed only for work reasons and health reasons proven by a medical certificate. Citizens are encourage to stay home and have an obligation to respect a safety distance of one metre from each other in supermarkets or in public spaces. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)
SALERNO, ITALY - MARCH 16: A nurse inside a Civil Protection tent set up as a Pre-Triage in the Luigi Curto hospital on March 16, 2020 in Polla, Italy. Italian Government continues to enfoce the nationwide lockdown measures to control the coronavirus spread. The number of people infected with coronavirus in Italy is growing, new cases are reported in many southern regions. In the Campania Region, the local government has decided to quarantine five Municipalities so that preventing anyone from entering or leaving Ariano Irpino in the province of Avellino, Atena Lucana, Caggiano, Polla and Sala Consilina in the province of Salerno. (Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)
SALERNO, ITALY - MARCH 16: A nurse inside a Civil Protection tent set up as a Pre-Triage in the Luigi Curto hospital on March 16, 2020 in Polla, Italy. Italian Government continues to enfoce the nationwide lockdown measures to control the coronavirus spread. The number of people infected with coronavirus in Italy is growing, new cases are reported in many southern regions. In the Campania Region, the local government has decided to quarantine five Municipalities so that preventing anyone from entering or leaving Ariano Irpino in the province of Avellino, Atena Lucana, Caggiano, Polla and Sala Consilina in the province of Salerno. (Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)
A man runs across a deserted Lungotevere Marzio embankment on March 16, 2020 in Rome. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
SALERNO, ITALY - MARCH 16: The interior of a Civil Protection tent set up as a Pre-Triage of the Luigi Curto hospital on March 16, 2020 in Polla, Italy. Italian Government continues to enfoce the nationwide lockdown measures to control the coronavirus spread. The number of people infected with coronavirus in Italy is growing, new cases are reported in many southern regions. In the Campania Region, the local government has decided to quarantine five Municipalities so that preventing anyone from entering or leaving Ariano Irpino in the province of Avellino, Atena Lucana, Caggiano, Polla and Sala Consilina in the province of Salerno. (Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)
People wearing a face mask walk across the Gianicolo promenade on March 16, 2020 in Rome. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
Empty check-in counters are seen at a terminal of the airport of Naples, Italy, on March 16, 2020 where air traffic slowed down due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Paolo Manzo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A patient (L) flashes the victory sign as she is being brought into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, on March 16, 2020 at the Gemelli hospital in Rome. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman takes a picture of a notice informing customers of the temporary closure over coronavirus concerns of the Disney store on Oxford Street in London, England, on March 16, 2020. Around the country, as elsewhere in the world, covid-19 coronavirus fears continue to escalate as the numbers of cases and deaths continues to rise. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meanwhile remains under pressure over the government's so-called herd immunity strategy, which bucks the closures-and-lockdowns approach adopted by countries such as Italy and Spain. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Cristina Higgins, who lives in Bergamo, wrote on Facebook last week that Americans and some Europeans “are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.”

“You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country,” Higgins wrote. “Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can. If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.” 

Dr. Daniele Macchini, who’s also from Bergamo, wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post that Italy has so many patients it’s impossible to give all of them adequate care.

“The display boards with the names of the sick, of different colors depending on the operating unit they belong to, are now all red and instead of the surgical operation there is the diagnosis, which is always the same cursed: bilateral interstitial pneumonia,” Macchini wrote in her essay, according to a translation.

“The epidemiological disaster is taking place. And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us,” Macchini wrote. “The cases multiply, we arrive at the rate of 15-20 hospitalizations a day all for the same reason. The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing.”

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Figures who have tested positive for coronavirus
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Figures who have tested positive for coronavirus

Last week, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they had tested positive for COVID-19 after contracting it in Australia, where Hanks was filming a movie. 

"We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches," the Oscar-winning actor shared on Instagram. "Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive."

"Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?"

Idris Elba took to Twitter on Monday morning to announce that he, too, contracted the virus. The actor was at the same conference in Webley as Sophie Trudeau, who also tested positive. 

He shared with his fans:

"This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing. No panic.

Sophie Gregorie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, was announced to have tested positive for the virus last week. 

Her symptoms developed after attending a conference in Britain in early March. The prime minister is not showing symptoms and will not be tested, but will remain under quarantine.

Kristofer Hivju, best known for his role as Tormund on "Game of Thrones," took to Instagram on Monday to reveal he was self quarantining with his family in Norway.  

"We are in good health,” he wrote. “I only have mild symptoms of a cold. There are people at higher risk for who this virus might be a devastating diagnosis, so I urge all of you to be extremely careful; wash your hands, keep 1,5 meters distance from others, go in quarantine; just do everything you can to stop the virus from spreading.

Olga Kurylenko, who starred in the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace,” announced this weekend that she has contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

“I’ve actually been ill for almost a week now,” she wrote on Instagram. “Fever and fatigue are my main symptoms. Take care of yourself and do take this seriously!”

Donavan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, both players on the Utah Jazz basketball team, have tested positive for the virus. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive, which prompted the suspension of the rest of the basketball season. 
Callum Hudson-Odoi, a forward for the Chelsea football team, tested positive for the virus, in addition to Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta. Following the announcement, all professional soccer games in England have been postponed. 
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Macchini warned people to away from “the theater, museums or gym” and to have “mercy on that myriad of older people you could exterminate.”

“Please, listen to us, try to leave the house only to indispensable things,” he added.

Roberta Re, a nurse at Piacenza hospital in Emilia-Romagna, told The Guardian that working to help people recover from the coronavirus is akin to “a world war.”

“But it’s a war that isn’t fightable with traditional arms ― as we don’t yet know who the enemy is and so it’s difficult to fight,” Re said. “The only weapon we do have to avoid things getting even worse is to stay at home and to respect the rules, to do what they did in China, as this is paying off.” 

Giacomo Grasselli, a senior Italian health official working in Lombardy, likened the coronavirus escalation to “a bomb that exploded.”

“Everything happens very quickly, if one had told me that in two weeks we would have created 500 new ICU beds … I would have said ‘OK you’re crazy,’” Grasselli told the United Kingdom’s Channel 4. 

“Everyone must understand” what he said is “very, very important for every country,” namely “to behave in some way in order to avoid the spread of the disease.” 

Many Americans appear to be ignoring the message. Despite warnings to avoid public spaces and crowds, many people over the weekend continued gathering at restaurants, bars and other places as they normally would in a world without a pandemic.

On Baltimore’s historic Fort Avenue, “every bar and restaurant is packed,” a Baltimore Sun reporter tweeted on Friday. In New York City on Saturday night, people waited in a long line to crowd into a bar.

In Washington, D.C., dozens of people waited outside a Shake Shack on Saturday.

And in Florida, crowds at Disney World looked typically congested.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday released new advice that goes along with some of what the Italians are saying, suggesting that gatherings of more than 50 people should be canceled or postponed for at least eight weeks. Some states and local governments imposed their own rules, closing schools, restaurants and bars.

Whether the measures will help curb the coronavirus is yet to be seen. But perhaps it’s time to hunker down and listen to the Italians.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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