Coronavirus: Italy imposes strict lockdown in outbreak hotspots

PM Giuseppe Conte announces “extraordinary measures”, as two infected Italians die. …

Police on guard at the hospital of Schiavonia, near Padova, where tests for the coronavirus are performed in Veneto regionImage copyright EPA

Italy has introduced “extraordinary measures” to tackle the spread of the biggest outbreak of the new coronavirus in Europe.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the emergency plan late on Saturday as the number of cases rose to 79.

The measures were imposed after two Italian citizens were confirmed to have died from the virus.

A dozen towns in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto have been effectively quarantined under the plan.

Around 50,000 people from towns in two northern regions have been asked to stay at home by authorities.

Mr Conte said it would now be forbidden to enter or leave the outbreak areas, unless special permission was granted.

All school and sports activities have been suspended in those areas, including several Serie A football matches due to take place on Sunday.

Police, and if necessary the armed forces, will have the authority to ensure the regulations are enforced.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (C) said people would not be allowed to leave or enter coronavirus hotspots

Italian authorities fear the virus has gone beyond the isolated clusters of cases in Lombardy and Veneto, making it difficult to contain.

“The contagiousness of this virus is very strong and pretty virulent,” Lombardy’s health chief Giulio Gallera said.

The new coronavirus originated in the Chinese province of Hubei last year, but has spread to 26 countries, where more than 1,400 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed.

Chinese health authorities reported a decrease in the rate of deaths and new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday. Some 76 392 cases including 2,348 deaths have been confirmed in China.

But outside China, cases with no clear link to that country or other confirmed cases continue to rise, prompting concern from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the greatest concern now was countries with weaker health systems, particularly in Africa.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionPeople in Daegu have voiced concern over the spread of the virus

South Korea has reported the largest number of confirmed infections after China and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan, which has seen more than 600 cases.

In other developments:

  • Thirty-two British and other European cruise ship passengers are in quarantine in north-west England after arriving back from Japan
  • In South Korea, a fourth person has died and the number of confirmed cases has jumped to more than 550, an increase of more than 100 on the previous day. Most cases are linked to a hospital and a religious group near the south-eastern city of Daegu
  • Israel refused to allow some 200 non-Israelis to disembark from a plane which had arrived from South Korea, sending them back to Seoul; the 12 Israelis on board were quarantined
  • Iran reported its fifth death from the disease, and ordered the closure of schools, universities and cultural centres in 14 provinces

In January, the WHO declared a global emergency over the outbreak of the new virus, which causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19.

Fever, fatigue and a dry cough are the most common symptoms for patients.

The proportion of people dying from the disease appears to be low, with most only developing mild symptoms and making a full recovery.

What questions do you have about the coronavirus?

In some cases your question will be published, displaying your name, age and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. Please ensure you have read our terms & conditions and privacy policy.

Use this form to ask your question:

If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or send them via email to Please include your name, age and location with any question you send in.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *