Italy coronavirus outbreak spreads south as cases spike

27 Février, 2020, 10:11 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Italy Trying To Contain Europe’s First Major Coronavirus Outbreak

Simon Clarke, Cellular Microbiology associate professor at Reading University in England, said: "It seems that the virus can pass from person to person without symptoms, making it extremely hard to track, regardless of what health authorities do". France has reported 12 coronavirus cases and the death of one man, who was Chinese.

Ten towns in Lombardy close to Italy's business capital Milan, with a combined population of almost 50,000, have been placed under effective quarantine, with similar measures adopted for a small town in neighboring Veneto.

Civil protection officials insisted that Italy was still a safe place to visit.

"To be honest, no person thought the unfold could be so aggressive", Lombardy regional governor Attilio Fontana advised 102.5 RTL radio, predicting, nevertheless that the virus would regress in days because of the emergency measures. The sudden spread since a man sought treatment on February 18 has left Italy with more than 130 cases, the most in Europe. "She'd been tested and they already knew she had the coronavirus".

At first, it was widely presumed that the man was infected by an Italian friend he dined with and who had recently returned from his job, based in Shanghai. But Lombardy Gov. Attilio Fontana told reporters they all tested negative too.

Milan's storied opera house, La Scala, said its performances were being suspended "in relation to the spread of the coronavirus as a precautionary measure". Five people had died, and one had recovered.

Lombardy's ban on public events also extended to Masses in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

Universities in Milan have been closed and the city's mayor, Giuseppe Sala, said schools would also close their doors while the outbreak continued.

Croatia announced it would monitor any travellers coming from Italy, including Croatian children returning from school trips.

But in the south, thousands turned out for a visit by Pope Francis in the port city of Bari.

On Sunday, French health minister Olivier Véran said that new coronavirus cases in France are "very likely" and that he was "particularly watchful" of the epidemic in Italy. In those towns, only grocery stores and pharmacies were permitted to open, and people weren't supposed to enter or leave the towns.

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The newly deceased are two men aged 84 and 91 and a woman aged 83, said Borrelli.

"Every quarter-hour or so a vehicle goes by" on the main road, Catanacci said, speaking by telephone.

On the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, where more than 3,000 people where quarantined, the last passenger has left, but the risk of infection still lingers as the ship crew, and health officials are still onboard.

"Shutting down the borders would be a disproportionate and mistaken measure", Speranza said.

The spread of the virus has disrupted high profile events including Milan Fashion Week and the Venice Carnival, while Serie A football matches have been postponed. Hand disinfectant and face masks were in short supply; in Genoa - which hasn't had any cases - the supermarket shelves were empty. Those that test positive are retested in the ISS, and only those validated there are reported as confirmed cases.

In Austria, security official Franz Lang said the country was consideringactivating border controls to Italy. Lang said the situation would be discussed in meetings Monday, local Austrian media reported.

The German health ministry said it had initiated a phone conference for all European Union public health authorities about the outbreak in northern Italy on Monday.

Health authorities were frustrated by their failure to identify how the outbreak in the north had started.

In a statement, the ECDC said it was closely monitoring the situation.

"While it remains the case that most people who become infected will have light symptoms or none at all, such uncontrollable spread would present a serious risk to vulnerable individuals".

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