Italy coronavirus outbreak spreads south as cases spike

Henrietta Brewer
February 27, 2020

Italy reported a 45% one-day increase in people infected with the coronavirus as other countries in Europe recorded their first cases Tuesday, producing evidence that travellers are carrying the virus from the European outbreak's current epicenter.

Looking at the distribution of cases by macro-areas, the health authorities explained northern Italy registered 212 in Lombardy region, 38 in Veneto, 1 in Trentino Alto Adige, and 3 in Piedmont.

Health ministers from neighboring countries were to meet in Rome as the number of confirmed infections jumped to 283, with over 50 new cases reported since Monday. - "Mission Impossible" - Wide-ranging measures to halt the spread of the virus have affected tens of millions of people in the north of Italy, with schools closed and cultural and sporting events cancelled.

The sponsors of one of the world's largest furniture and design trade shows, held in Milan, announced late Tuesday that they made a decision to postpone the global event s due to concerns over the virus. A total of 35 cases have been reported in the United States.

The southern island of Sicily reported its first positive case from a woman vacationing from Bergamo, in Lombardy.

"Obviously, I can't say I'm not anxious because I don't want anyone to think we're underestimating this emergency", Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. Austria also saw its first two cases confirmed on Tuesday in the Tyrol province, which borders Italy.

Croatia confirmed the first case in the Balkans region after a young man recently returned from Italy - which lies across the Adriatic from Croatia - was found to have become infected.

However, on Monday the rise in new cases stabilised, with only 10 further infections reported.

"That certainly contributed to the spread", he said, without naming the institution concerned.

An Italian couple from the afflicted north tested positive in the Canary Islands off Africa, forcing the quarantine of their hotel in what one guest said felt like being "monkeys in a cage".

Mauritius authorities eventually permitted the passengers - who were not from the Lombardy and Veneto regions - to get off the plane after a medical screening was conducted.

Several upcoming football matches in Italian Serie A and the Europa League will be played behind closed doors.

The main centre of infection has been the town of Codogno, around 60 km to the south of Milan.

Codogno and several other towns in northern Italy have been put under isolation.

The four new deaths in Italy, like the seven reported earlier, were in patients who were elderly, suffering from other ailments or both, officials said.

The worst-hit region is Lombardy, where six people have died and 206 people have contracted the deadly disease.

According to media reports, in addition to his 8-month pregnant wife and other relatives, several of the doctors who examined him were infected, as well as nurses, carers and patients in their entourage.

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