ITALIAN authorities have announced sweeping closures in the country’s north as they scramble to contain Europe’s biggest outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Italy’s confirmed cases surged from three on Friday morning to more than 130 by Sunday morning.
The majority of coronavirus infections are concentrated in mainland China (with more than 78,800 cases), followed by Japan (738) and South Korea (602). Italy’s spike now marks the biggest outbreak outside of Asia.
Three people have died and at least 152 others have been infected with the virus in Italy, Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s Civil Protection agency, said at a Sunday news conference.
There are 110 cases in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, Borelli said, whose capital is the city of Milan.
He said at an earlier press conference that 26 patients were in intensive care and one patient had recovered.
Officials have yet to track down the first carrier of the virus in the country. “We still cannot identify patient zero, so it’s difficult to forecast possible new cases,” Borrelli said.
Strict emergency measures were put in place over the weekend, including a ban on public events in 10 municipalities, after a spike in confirmed cases in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced severe restrictions in the affected regions, which included the closure of public buildings, limited transport, and the surveillance and quarantine of individuals who may have been exposed to the virus.
Three Serie A games scheduled to be played in Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy were canceled at the weekend.
Atalanta versus Sassuolo, Hellas Verona versus Cagliari, and Inter Milan versus Sampdoria were suspended, according to Serie A’s website on Sunday.
The country’s fashion capital, Milan, announced it would close its schools starting Monday for a week. School trips inside and outside Italy were also being canceled from Sunday, according to a statement by Italy’s Ministry of Education.