geopolitics-00270
coronavirus

Italian authorities announced on Sunday that events related to the famous Venice carnival would be stopped as the country became the first one in Europe to have a national die from the COVID-19 virus.

The total number of cases nationwide is 117, with 89 patients in Lombardy, 25 in Veneto, two in Emilia Romagna and one in Piemonte, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Authorities said they put ten towns on lockdown in the north of the country after a cluster of cases emerged on Friday.

Italian authorities announced on Saturday that a 75-year-old woman from Lombardy had died, which followed the death of man, 78, from Veneto.

Many of the new cases represented the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion.

Some of the cases came at the same hospital in Codogno, one of the Lombardy towns now on lockdown.

A 38-year-old man was hospitalised there and his wife and a friend have also contracted it. Five medical staff, including nurses and doctors, have also tested positive.

Some of the cases came at the same hospital in Codogno, one of the Lombardy towns now on lockdown.

A 38-year-old man was hospitalised there and his wife and a friend have also contracted it. Five medical staff, including nurses and doctors, have also tested positive.

Towns in lockdown
The mayor of Codogno issued a decree ordering the closure of all restaurants, coffee bars, schools and public gathering spots such as discos and gyms. The health ministry advised area residents to stay home as a precaution.

Local officials in another town, Casalpusterlengo, ordered local schools closed through Tuesday.

A third town, Castiglione d’Adda, said its libraries, public offices, gyms and garbage depots would be closed as a health precaution.

The Codogno hospital closed its emergency room, and staff were seen wearing masks as movers brought in new beds and furniture as the quarantine got underway.

Deputy Health minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the manager who travelled to China and was put in isolation is not patient zero. Lab results showed the man did not develop antibodies against the virus.

Rome’s infectious disease hospital is currently caring for three other people who were infected, including a Chinese couple from hard-hit Wuhan and an Italian who is now testing ”persistently negative” for the virus after two weeks of anti-viral treatment.

Despite the calls for safeguards, Italians were having a hard time finding protective face masks. A sampling of Milan pharmacies reported selling out weeks ago, as did a pharmacist in Codogno.

Local Italian media said on Saturday that at least 10 towns were effectively locked down: Casalpusterlengo, Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano.

Individual cities outside the area covered by the ordinance, such as Cremona, issued their own restrictions after confirming there were local cases.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte held an emergency cabinet meeting with the Civil Protection on Saturday.

Conte declared the mandatory isolation of all people who were in contact with those who tested positive for the coronavirus and said the government was examining further measures to contain the outbreak.

More evacuees return to France
Meanwhile, a new plane repatriating 28 French people and 36 other EU citizens left Wuhan, China, on Friday, a diplomatic source confirmed to AFP.

The French evacuees will stay in quarantine in Calvados in Normandy.

This was the third plane sent from Paris to Wuhan, which has been under strict quarantine measures preventing travel for about a month.

This article has been corrected to say that ten towns are on lockdown. An earlier version said that there were twelve.