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The Italian community pharmacist on the COVID-19 front line


I’m an Italian pharmacist and I have enjoyed working there in community pharmacy for many years. A number of years ago I worked in the UK as a pharmacist so have some insight into your system.


Community pharmacy used to be normal there. Until recently that is. A few short weeks ago all our lives in Italy changed and the professional implications are serious.


The situation in Italy is chaotic.


In recent days I have read lots of posts about the situation in the UK. I have seen that many people are confused about the COVID-19 outbreak. They don’t know what to think and pharmacists are nervous about the impact on them and their workplace.


Concerningly most people are underestimating the severity and impact of the situation. This is exactly what many countries, including Italy, did at the beginning.


It’s not time to argue or to lose time.


You may not have the benefit of waiting for the guides from the Government. Instead, you may need to act to protect yourselves and your patients.


Put a notice on at the entrance of the pharmacy. Find hand sanitiser and tissues (like Kleenex). Write notices on the doors of your pharmacy like this one:


“Please clean your hands before entering, use a tissue if you’re coughing or sneezing and throw it in the bin. Maintain a distance of at least one metre at least and enter just two people at a time”.


I have been wearing a mask and gloves to protect ourselves and your patients at work. I suggest you do similar. And when you go to the supermarket or in any shops do not think that you look weird. Instead, try to think about your health, the health of your family and the health of the rest of the population.


In our pharmacy in Italy, we now put a plexiglass divider on the counter. We constantly wear masks and gloves. If you can’t provide a divider, put a plastic transparent glasses on the counter. Do something. It’s not comfy wearing a mask as it’s hard to breathe but a necessary step.


Please learn from the Italian experience and tell elderly relatives to stay at home and isolate themselves.


One thing that working as a community pharmacist in Italy has demonstrated to me is that the situation is critical.


This is real.


I never thought I would be wearing a mask in the way we have been doing. The vents that began in December in China feel so far away from our home.


Please do not make the mistake of doing nothing. Denial is tempting. Remember Italy and go and wash your hands. Keep that gap.


Please do not remain complacent in light of the oncoming tsunami that is COVID-19.


Wash your hands.


Use hands sanitiser very often.


DON’T TOUCH your mouth, nose and eyes.


Don’t shake hands.


Keep at least a metre from another person even if you’re wearing the mask.


Try to find a huge amount of masks because soon all Europe is gonna be like Italy, and will be hard finding some just like in Italy.


The author of this article is a pharmacist who runs a community pharmacy in Italy. He wishes to remain anonymous. 




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