Seventh Italian dies from coronavirus in Europe’s worst flare-up

Updated 04:50 PM
A woman wearing a face mask waits at a metro platform in Milan, Italy February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

A seventh person has died in the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the Ansa news agency has reported.

The latest person to die was an 80-year-old man who had been taken to hospital last week in Lodi after having a heart attack, Reuters reports. Doctors believe he caught the virus there from another patient.

The first death from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy was reported on Friday.

Sixth person dies from coronavirus

A sixth person infected with the coronavirus has died in Italy, officials said on Monday as the government battled to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of the illness and Italian shares tumbled nearly 5% on fears over the economic impact.

Fifth Italian dies from coronavirus in Europe’s worst flare-up

A fifth person infected with the coronavirus has died in Italy, officials said on Monday as the government battled to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of the illness and Italian shares tumbled nearly 5% on fears over the economic impact.

More than 220 people have come down with the virus since Friday, latest data showed, the vast majority of them in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Authorities across northern Italy have shut schools, universities, museums and cinemas for at least a week, and banned public gatherings including the famed Venice carnival.

Ten towns in Lombardy close to Italy’s financial capital Milan, with a combined population of nearly 50,000, have been placed under effective quarantine, with similar measures in place for a small town in neighbouring Veneto.

“To be honest, nobody thought the spread (of coronavirus) would be so aggressive. The illness is not serious, but it must not be underestimated,” Attilio Fontana, the regional governor of Lombardy, told 102.5 RTL radio.

He added that emergency measures imposed at the weekend would be effective and that “in a matter of days, the spread of the virus will regress”.

Analysts warned that the outbreak, which is centred on the country’s industrial and financial hearlands, could shunt Italy’s fragile economy into its fourth recession in 12 years.

Italian shares were down 4.68% at 1300 GMT, with businesses most at risk from an expected spending slump worst hit. Electronic payments group NEXI lost more than 6.7%, while motorway and airport retail group Autogrill slumped 12.5%

Local authorities announced two new deaths on Monday, both men in their 80s from Lombardy. The three previous fatalities recorded since Friday were also all elderly and most of the dead had serious underlying health problems.

Lombardy remained the worst hit region with some 172 confirmed cases, while neighbouring Veneto had 27 infections, including two in Venice which has been packed for the carnival season.

Officials said 23 people were in intensive care, while almost 100 were being taken care of in their own homes, with some of them showing little or no outward symptoms.

TOURISM HIT

Milan, a city of 1.3 million people, was much quieter than normal for a Monday morning. Trials were cancelled, some supermarket shelves were empty, and even the city’s imposing Gothic cathedral closed its doors, disappointing tourists.

“We were only meant to spend three days in Milan and then go to Venice for the carnival but everything is shut,” said Russian tourist Violla Belova, 50, wearing a face mask as she took photographs of the shuttered Duomo cathedral.

“I hope we won’t have to cut our trip short,” she said.

With other countries looking to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Mauritius on Monday told passengers from Lombardy and Veneto aboard an Alitalia aircraft that they would either have to go into quarantine or else fly straight back home.

Alitalia said 40 out of the 224 passengers and crew were affected by the ban and decided to leave the Indian Ocean island immediately.

Ireland said its citizens should not travel to parts of Italy affected by the outbreak. Tunisia announced on Monday that it may suspend some flights to Italy to reduce its exposure to the coronavirus.

Austria briefly blocked a train from Italy at its border on Sunday because of concerns over the health of two travellers.

Italy’s tourism industry, which accounts for up to 13% of the gross domestic product, sounded the alarm bell.

“We have been swamped by cancellations in the last few days, in restaurants, hotels, everywhere,” said Patrizio Bertin, the head of the Veneto branch of Italy’s trade lobby Confcommercio.

Marco Michielli, head of Veneto’s hoteliers’ association Federalberghi, said cancellations were “raining down all over the region, like in the rest of Italy,” and criticised the draconian measures adopted by the authorities.

“I think the government has been excessively prudent, to use a euphemism, it’s as though there were an Ebola epidemic.”

Italy records fourth death from coronavirus; stock market slides

A fourth person infected with the coronavirus has died in Italy, officials said on Monday as the government struggled to contain an outbreak of the illness and financial markets slid on fears over the economic impact.

More than 200 people have come down with the virus since Friday, latest data showed, the vast majority of them in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Looking to slow the progress of the highly contagious disease, authorities in the worst hit areas have shut schools, universities, museums and cinemas, and banned all public events.

Almost a dozen towns in Lombardy southeast of Italy’s financial capital Milan, with a combined population of nearly 50,000 have been placed under effective quarantine, with similar measures in place for a small town in neighbouring Veneto.

Italy’s blue-chip index fell 4%, with shares of businesses most at risk from an expected spending slump such as electronic payments group NEXI down more than 6%.

Shares in Milan-based Banco BPM, Italy’s third-largest bank rooted in Lombardy, fell nearly 7%. Analysts have warned that the outbreak could shunt Italy’s already fragile economy back into recession.

The worst-hit region Lombardy announced 53 new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the total there to 165 in just four days. Some 22 people had the virus in Veneto, while a handful of infections were also recorded in the adjacent regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.

The fourth person to die of the virus came from Lombardy, officials said. He was an 84-year-old man who had been in hospital for treatment for an unrelated illness when he was struck down by the disease.

The three other people who have died of the illness were also elderly and at least two of them had serious underlying health problems.