The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has increased dramatically, with dozens of new confirmed cases recorded in Lombardy, the northern region that includes the country’s financial capital, Milan.
The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Italy reached 115 on Sunday, state TV reported following an announcement by the Lombard governor Attilio Fontana that there are 89 cases in his region.
Most of these cases emerged in small towns in the countryside, although Milan has at least one case.
Almost all Italian cases are grouped in the north, with around a dozen cities in a state of blockade, which means that people are not allowed to enter or leave city limits.
After Lombardy, the next most affected region is Veneto, in the north-east, with at least 17 cases.
The beloved Sunday routines of the Italians – from football to going to church – were affected by the spread of the infection, almost entirely based in the north. Sporting events in the affected northern areas, including rehearsals by the local children’s sports team and three Serie A games, have been canceled.
The bishops of several dioceses in northern Italy have issued directives according to which the characters of holy water must be kept empty, that the communion wafers are placed in the hands of the faithful and not directly in the mouth by the priests who celebrate Mass, and that the congregates refrain from shaking hands or exchanging kisses during the symbolic sign of the peace ritual.
In a coincidence, the Vatican official in charge of propagating the faith comes from one of the most affected cities, Codogno. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, whose brothers live in the city, refused to dramatize the measures. “It goes without saying that we must use all the necessary caution,” to avoid spreading the virus among the faithful, he said.
The first cases in Italy – that of a married Chinese couple on vacation in Rome – emerged in early February.
To date, two deaths have been reported – of elderly in the north.
Of those brought to hospital in Italy, at least 18 people were in intensive care on Sunday, according to officials.