MILAN (Reuters) – An outbreak of the new coronavirus killed two people and infected 51 others in northern Italy, forcing authorities to ban public events and companies to tell workers in the affected areas to stay home.
A 77-year-old woman who was found dead at her home 50 km south of Milan on Thursday tested positive for coronavirus, a city councilor said Saturday after a 78-year-old man died from the infection near Padua at night.
The man’s wife and daughter are among the 12 people infected with the coronavirus in Veneto. Italy is the most affected country in Europe, with most cases concentrated in Lombardy, the country’s financial and industrial heart.
Regional welfare councilor Giulio Gallera told reporters that the center of the epidemic was Codogno, a small town south-west of Milan where the first infected patient in Lombardy was treated.
That patient was a 38-year-old man who fell ill after meeting a friend who had visited China. His condition has stabilized, authorities said.
“All those who have tested positive are people who from 18 to 19 February had contact with the emergency room and the Codogno hospital,” said Gallera, adding that 259 people have been screened in the area in the past two days. and 35 tested positive.
“A 13% infection rate is strong enough,” he said.
About 50,000 residents in Codogno and neighboring towns have been advised to stay indoors. Public meetings, including Sunday masses and football matches, have been suspended and schools and shops have been closed.
Similar measures have been taken in the small Venetian town of Vo Euganeo, where the male victim lived and beyond the most affected areas.
The regional governor Luca Zaia said that the administration is considering whether to suspend the events of the Venice Carnival.
So far there are no confirmed cases in Milan, said Gallera.
On Saturday, MIDO’s board of directors said that the coronavirus emergency pushed him to postpone the world’s largest eyewear fair to be held in Milan in a week in late May.
Italy was the first euro-zone country to stop all direct flights to and from China, after two Chinese tourists from Wuhan proved positive in Rome in late January.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday that the government was ready to consider further measures.
Chinese tourists and an Italian citizen repatriated from Wuhan were the only three cases in Italy until Friday.
The southern region of Calabria also reported a suspected case, saying that he had hospitalized a 26-year-old woman who had returned from Venice with a temperature after attending a conference with a colleague who had come into contact with the man of Codogno.
Reporting of Valentina Za in Milan and Riccardo Bastianello in Padua; Edited by William Maclean, Ros Russell