Photos show what Italy is like under lockdown as the country becomes Europe’s epicentre of the coronavirus with 283 cases reported in 4 days

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A policewoman next to carnival revelers at Venice Carnival. Ohad Zwigenberg / Reuters
  • 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.

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Tourists in front of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy, on February 24. Andrea Pattaro / AFP / Getty

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.

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A sign advising clients in various languages, including Chinese, that respiratory masks are sold out at a pharmacy in downtown Rome. Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty

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.

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A woman in downtown Milan on Monday. Claudio Furlan/Lapresse / AP

Sources: Business Insider, La Repubblica


Outside Asia, Italy now has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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Tourists in the Colosseum area on February 6 in Rome. Antonio Masiello/Getty

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.”

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Italian soldiers at a checkpoint at the entrance of a town in the red zone of the COVID-19 outbreak. Marco Sabadin / AFP / Getty

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.

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Milan on February 24. Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty

Source: Financial Times


Lombardy has 212 of the cases. In Milan, Lombardy’s capital, the streets are deserted.

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An empty street in Milan on February 24. Flavio Lo Scalzo / Reuters

Sources: CNN, The Washington Post


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.”

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A man sits alone outside a bar at the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Luca Bruno / AP

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.

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A man on a streetcar in Milan on Monday. Luca Bruno / AP

Sources: CNN, The Washington Post


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.

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks with the media in Brussels on February 21. Virginia Mayo / AP

Source: FT


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.

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An Italian soldier in Duomo Square on February 24 in Milan. Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty

Sources: The Washington Post, AP


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.

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Giorgio Armani at his fashion show during Milan Fashion Week. Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters

Sources: FT, BBC,The Independent


In Venice, where two cases have been confirmed, authorities suspended the final two days of the famous Venice Carnival.

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The Carnival of Viareggio on February 23 in Viareggio, Italy. Laura Lezza/Getty

Sources: CNN, FT


It’s a much-loved occasion, and some people still participated with traditional outfits.

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Venice Carnival revelers. Ohad Zwigenberg / Reuters

For a while, people in Venice were sporting two very different types of masks — one for the carnival and one for the virus …

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Security personnel wearing protective masks next to carnival revelers at Venice Carnival. Ohad Zwigenberg / Reuters

… or a combination of the two.

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A tourist wearing a protective mask for a carnival in Venice on February 24. Andrea Pattaro / AFP / Getty

On Tuesday, tables in St Mark’s Square were empty.

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Empty tables sit in St. Mark’s square in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Renata Brito / AP

Paramount Pictures had to put a three-week shoot in Venice for the newest “Mission Impossible” film on ice.

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Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise in Rome in 2014. Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty

Source: Wall Street Journal


In Ivrea, another Northern Italian city, a traditional festival known as the “Battle of the Oranges” was also suspended.

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Oranges on the ground after the traditional ‘Battle of the Oranges’ festival in Ivrea, Italy, was suspended. Marco Alpozzi / Lapresse / AP

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.

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Carabinieri officers set up a roadblock in Zorlesco, Italy, on Monday. Claudio Furlan/Lapresse / AP

Sources: Business Insider, The Washington Post, FT, BBC


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.

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An Italian Guardia di Finanza officer and a man at a roadblock in Casalpusterlengo, Italy. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty

Sources: Business Insider, The Washington Post, FT


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.”

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An Italian Carabinieri officer talks to a man at a police checkpoint on February 24. Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty

Source: AP


And people, fearing that there could be worse to come, are cleaning out supermarkets.

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People outside a supermarket in Casalpusterlengo, Italy, on Monday. Paolo Santalucia / AP

Sources: The Washington Post, BBC


A woman named Colette Walsh, who lives in Lissone, told the BBC that people were “panic buying” and shelves were already empty.

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Empty shelves in a supermarket in Rozzano, near Milan, on Sunday. Antonio Calanni / AP

Sources: The Washington Post, BBC


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.

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Personnel carry new beds into the hospital of Codogno in Northern Italy on Friday. Luca Bruno / AP

Sources: The Washington Post, BBC,The New York Times, CNN


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.

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Travellers at the Deutsche Bahn information desk after a train was stopped. Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance / Getty

Sources: The Washington Post, BBC,The New York Times


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.

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Airport staff check the temperatures of passengers returning from Milan as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Debrecen airport, Hungary, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI / AP

Source: Washington Post


For now, Italy is trying to stop the virus from spreading. Its own all clear could be weeks away, if not longer.

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Police stop cars trying to enter or leave the cordoned area in Casalpusterlengo on Sunday. Claudio Furlan/LaPresse / AP

Sources: The Washington Post, BBC,The New York Times