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Italy has quarantined a dozen cities over the coronavirus

Isobel Asher Hamilton , Business Insider US
 Feb 23, 2020, 05:54 PM
Police officers in the Italian province of Veneto stationed outside the Schiavonia hospital, February 22. (Getty)
  • Italy has quarantined a dozen towns in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
  • This followed a confirmed 79 cases of coronavirus in Italy, along with two deaths.
  • Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the lockdown on Saturday night, which bans anyone from leaving or entering the affected area, which contains some 50,000 people.
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Italy is battening down the hatches against coronavirus.

On Saturday the number of reported cases of the virus in Italy rose to 79, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced an emergency plan to quarantine towns in the worst affected areas late on Saturday evening, the BBC reports.

Per the BBC, Conte announced lockdowns on a dozen towns in the northern provinces of Lombardy and Veneto, asking roughly 50,000 Italian citizens to stay home. Travel to and from the outbreak areas without special permission is now banned, and police and armed forces will have authority to enforce the lockdown.

Schools and businesses in some of the towns have been closed down by local authorities according to the Guardian, and sporting events and religious services have been cancelled.

Italy has now reported two deaths from coronavirus: a 76 year-old woman was found dead in her home near Milan on Thursday and on Friday a 78 year-old man was declared dead at a hospital in Padua. The outbreak reportedly originated on February 18 in Codogno, a small town southeast of Milan.

The new coronavirus originated in China and has now spread to 30 countries, with over 77,700 reported cases worldwide. The vast majority of those cases are still in China (76,392 according to the World Health Organisation) followed by South Korea which reported a sudden spike on Friday, resulting in a total of 433 confirmed cases. In a statement issued on Friday the World Health Organisation said the window of opportunity to contain the international spread of the virus is narrowing.

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