- Italy is now the focal point of the novel coronavirus outside Asia.
- Over four days, there was a rapid spike in confirmed cases in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto – increasing from three confirmed cases on Friday to 283 by Tuesday.
- Authorities have closed down 12 towns as they try to stop the virus from spreading.
- Photos show what it looks like on the ground.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Italy is now the European epicentre for the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.
It was a dramatic weekend for coronavirus cases in Italy. On Friday morning, there were only three confirmed cases. By Tuesday, more than 283 had been confirmed and a seventh person had died. According to The Washington Post, cases of the coronavirus are rising, nearly every hour.
Authorities still don’t know where the coronavirus originated in Italy, which makes it hard to track and stop the outbreak. Cases have also been confirmed in Tuscany and Sicily.
Authorities put 12 towns on lockdown and closed some of the country’s most famous attractions to curb the virus’ spread. Wary citizens are stockpiling food.
Here’s how Italy is dealing with the coronavirus, in photos.
Italy, a country filled with tourist destinations like Venice’s canals and Rome’s Colosseum, is now dealing with a sudden and threatening outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
It has been a concern for tourists for months, and as far back as January, masks were selling out in downtown Rome. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend that uninfected people wear masks, but they can be beneficial for people who have symptoms of the virus.
Source: Business Insider
Over four days, the virus spiked. Three confirmed cases on Friday ballooned to 283 cases by Tuesday, with seven deaths. According to La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, all of the people who died were elderly and had other health issues.
Outside Asia, Italy now has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Source: Business Insider
One Italian shop owner named Carlo Benuzzi told The Washington Post, “All the things you used to see in films that are far from us, now you see them here.”
Source: The Washington Post
Lombardy and Veneto, both in Northern Italy, are the two regions with the most confirmed cases. According to the Financial Times, they make up about one-third of Italy’s economy, and the virus’ impact could be damaging to its struggling economy.
Source: Financial Times
Lombardy has 212 of the cases. In Milan, Lombardy’s capital, the streets are deserted.
Bars, like this one beside the Naviglio Grande canal, are empty except for one patron. Cafes aren’t doing much better. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of office workers “sipping their morning espresso at one stand-up bar was well below normal levels.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
Despite Milan appearing abandoned, it’s not an easy city to contain. It has the second-busiest airport in Italy, and trains constantly pass through with daily routes to Rome.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster, he was surprised by the “explosion of cases” and that his government was doing everything it could to contain the virus.
Italian authorities are trying to minimise the virus’ spread. They have cancelled sports games and closed schools, universities, restaurants, and tourist attractions, like the Duomo cathedral in Milan.
Milan’s fashion week was affected, though not hugely. On Sunday, the fashion designer Giorgio Armani held a show without a live audience. Instead, people could watch it via livestream.
In Venice, where two cases have been confirmed, authorities suspended the final two days of the famous Venice Carnival.
It’s a much-loved occasion, and some people still participated with traditional outfits.
For a while, people in Venice were sporting two very different types of masks — one for the carnival and one for the virus …
… or a combination of the two.
On Tuesday, tables in St Mark’s Square were empty.
Paramount Pictures had to put a three-week shoot in Venice for the newest “Mission Impossible” film on ice.
Source: Wall Street Journal
In Ivrea, another Northern Italian city, a traditional festival known as the “Battle of the Oranges” was also suspended.
Outside of the major cities, things escalated late on Saturday. A dozen Italian towns were put on lockdown. According to a BBC map, the largest cluster of towns are southeast of Milan, while another town is west of Venice.
Masked police are monitoring checkpoints. Anyone who wants to enter or leave requires special permission. The quarantine in the towns affects about 50,000 people.
A resident named Andrea Casilas in Vo’Euganeo, a town that’s blocked off, told The AP, “This wasn’t a very exciting place to begin with. Since we can’t go to the bar, there’s no much left to do.”
And people, fearing that there could be worse to come, are cleaning out supermarkets.
A woman named Colette Walsh, who lives in Lissone, told the BBC that people were “panic buying” and shelves were already empty.
On Tuesday, as numbers continued to rise, with an additional 54 confirmed cases in 24 hours, officials still weren’t sure how the virus entered Italy.
Outside Italy, the rest of Europe is taking the situation seriously. Borders are not closed, but they are being monitored. A train heading to Austria was stopped until a person with flu-like symptoms was given the all clear.
In Hungary, airport staff are now monitoring people coming in from Milan. Other countries have also announced passengers would be checked, including Prague and Bulgaria. Bulgaria Air, the country’s airline, cancelled all flights to Milan until March 27.
Source: Washington Post