An Italian man infected with coronavirus died on Friday, becoming the first death of a European national linked to the deadly illness that has spread across the globe.
The elderly man died in a hospital in the northern city of Padua, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday. He said that the 78-year-old had been in the hospital for 10 days for an unrelated illness.
The victim was one of two people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the Veneto region. Last weekend, France reported the first death in Europe from the virus — a Chinese tourist who had been visiting Paris.
Scramble to contain the outbreak
Earlier in the day, officials had ordered schools, public buildings, restaurants and coffee shops in ten towns in northern Italy to close after a cluster of 15 other cases emerged.
All cases were located in the Lombardy region, where a 38-year-old man fell ill with the virus after meeting someone who returned from China in late January. Five doctors and nurses and several patients were infected at the hospital in Codogno where he was treated.
Three other people, who all visited the same cafe in the Lombardy region, also tested positive for the virus.
Hundreds of people have been put in isolation and are being tested for the virus, Italian health officials have said. Over 150 co-workers of the 38-year-old as well 70 medical staff at Codogna hospital are among those being tested.
The new cases represent the first acquired through secondary contagion in Italy and brought the total number of confirmed cases up to 17.