Cases of the new corona virus in Italy, the most affected country in Europe, rose to almost 80 on Saturday, killing two people and causing the government to close the most affected areas in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto. Authorities in the two regions where the outbreak is concentrated have canceled sporting events, including three top league football matches and closed schools and universities.
Companies from Ray-Ban owner Luxottica to the country's top bank, UniCredit, have advised workers living in the affected areas to stay at home. Lombardy and Veneto represent the industrial heart of Italy and together make up 30% of gross domestic production. With an emergency decree passed at a meeting at the headquarters of the Italian Civil Protection Agency, the government issued special powers to prevent people from leaving or entering the most affected areas. The responsible ministers can also stop sporting events and school trips outside these areas.
"I was wondering why so many cases in Italy … and the answer lies in the rigorous and careful controls our country has undertaken from the start," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at a late evening press conference.
Italy's first victim was a 76-year-old woman who was found dead in her house on Thursday, 50 km south of Milan, and tested positive for the corona virus.
A 78-year-old man died of the infection on Friday evening in a hospital near Padua. The woman and the daughter of the man are among the 17 people who are infected with the corona virus in the Veneto region. The authorities are considering suspending the current Venice Carnival events. There are 54 cases in nearby Lombardy, including a man who is currently at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan.
The city where Women’s Fashion Week takes place has 1.4 million residents. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani said his Sunday fashion show would take place in an empty theater with no press or buyers present to protect their health. The Milan prosecutor said it would not reopen on Monday and would remain closed until further notice.
The organizers of the world's largest eyewear fair MIDO postponed the event, which was to take place in a week in Milan, to the end of May on Saturday.
Small town in the heart of the outbreak
The outbreak originated in Codogno, a small town southeast of Milan where the first infected patient in Lombardy, a 38-year-old man who is now in a stable condition, was treated.
"All who tested positive are people who had contact with the Codogno emergency room and hospital from February 18-19," said regional health councilor Giulio Gallera. In the past two days, 259 people in the region had been examined, 35 had tested positive. "A 13% infection rate is pretty strong," he said.
Around 50,000 residents in Codogno and nine nearby cities were advised to stay indoors.
Public gatherings, including Sunday services and soccer games, have been suspended and schools and shops closed. Similar measures were taken in the small Venetian town of Vo & # 39; Euganeo, where the male victim lived, and elsewhere. Conte said further school closures outside of the outbreak epicenter would be left to local authorities.
Italy was the first euro area country to end all direct flights to and from China after two Chinese tourists from the severely affected city of Wuhan tested positive in Rome in late January. Chinese tourists and an Italian citizen repatriated from Wuhan were the only three cases in Italy until Friday.
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