MILAN (Reuters) – Italy raced on Sunday to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, sealing off the worst affected towns and banning public gatherings in much of the north as the number of those infected jumped above 100.
Authorities in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which are the focal point of the flare-up, ordered schools and universities to close for at least a week, shut museums and cinemas and called off the last two days of the Venice Carnival.
“As of this evening, there will be a ban on the Venice Carnival as well as on all events, including sporting ones, until March 1 inclusive,” the regional governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, told reporters. He said Sunday’s festivities in the packed lagoon city would continue to prevent any public order problems.
The number of certified cases of the illness in Lombardy rose to 90 from 54 a day earlier, while in Veneto some 25 people had come down with the virus, including two people in Venice.
Health officials reported isolated cases in the neighboring regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna, saying the total number of known infections in Italy had risen to above 130. Two elderly people have died in the past 48 hours from the disease.
The regional governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, said he had dealt with numerous natural disasters during his long career, including floods and earthquakes. “But this is the absolutely worst problem that Veneto has faced,” he told reporters.
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