With more than 200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and five deaths, Italy has suddenly become a focal point amidst fears of a global outbreak of the virus.
Several towns in northern Italy near Milan were in a virtual lockdown on Monday as Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has banned people from leaving infected areas. Italian police have been ordered to fine anyone caught entering or leaving certain towns – including tourists.
“Protecting our citizens is the main priority,” said Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. “We are all taking this situation seriously, but without giving in to panic, disorder or disinformation.”
And it’s not just northern Italy.
Roadblocks have been set up to stop people entering or leaving about a dozen Italian towns. In some areas, businesses, schools, universities, museums and tourist attractions have been closed and public events canceled. Venice even cut short its traditional carnivale, shutting down with three days still to go.
In Basilicata, in the southern region of Italy down near the bottom of the boot, Governor Vito Bardi ordered 14-day quarantines for anyone entering the area.
“We are following the situation in Italy very closely and commend the Italian authorities for their swift and efficient action,” Kyriakides said.
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