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21 Feb, 2020 23:52

Italy locks down 10 towns after 1st coronavirus death as cases jump to 17

Italy locks down 10 towns after 1st coronavirus death as cases jump to 17

Public spaces across 10 Italian cities have been placed on lockdown, as the first Italian patient succumbed to the illness, amid a spate of new coronavirus cases – bringing the total in the country to 17.

With 15 new cases confirmed on Friday in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, health authorities have imposed restrictions on 50,000 people across 10 towns, who have been asked to stay home and avoid public places, including schools, bars, church gatherings, and sporting events.

Five doctors are among the new patients, the first known cases of local transmission of the virus in Italy. None of them are believed to have traveled to China, where the illness first emerged.

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A 78-year-old man from the town of Padua became the first Italian to die of the contagion on Friday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said. Another patient from the same area has also tested positive. Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region – which encompasses Padua – said a “sanitary ring” would be established around the town to prevent further spread of the virus.

Restrictions were first imposed on the town of Codogno and its population of 15,000, where three people tested positive for the coronavirus. Authorities in Casalpusterlengo, meanwhile, have already placed an electronic sign outside the town hall reading: “Coronavirus: the population is invited to remain indoors as a precaution.”

Around 200 people across Italy have already been placed in quarantine, while 60 workers from a Unilever facility in Lodi are undergoing tests for the pathogen after a 38-year-old employee fell ill. He is now in serious condition. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte emphasized that the government is working at “an extremely high level of precaution,” and that “everything is under control.”

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The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has infected around 77,000 people and killed over 2,360 worldwide since December. Though the majority have been in Mainland China, 1,150 cases have been confirmed in other countries, as well as eight fatalities.

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