COVID-19: Italy struggle to contain outbreak

Coronavirus in the lab

Coronavirus

Coronavirus in the lab: it is now called Covid-19 by WHO

Italy has shut off the worst affected towns and cancelling public events on Sunday as it struggled to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe.

As the number of those infected jumped above 100, the government passed stringent emergency measures late on Saturday after the first two deaths from the disease were recorded in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

The number of certified cases of the illness in Lombardy rose to 89 from 54 a day earlier, while in Veneto some 24 people had come down with the virus, including two people in Venice, which is packed with tourists for the annual Carnival.

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Health officials reported isolated cases in the neighboring regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna, saying the total number of known infections in Italy was 132.

Almost a dozen towns in Lombardy and Veneto with a combined population of some 50,000 have effectively been placed under quarantine, with locals urged to stay home and special permission needed to enter or leave the designated areas.

Universities were shuttered across much of northern Italy until early March and four top-flight Serie A soccer matches set for Sunday were postponed.