Monday, 24 February 2020

Italy sees its FOURTH coronavirus death

Italy has today announced its fourth death from coronavirus as the country imposes drastic security measures to contain the first major outbreak in Europe. 

An 84-year-old man was confirmed dead today in Lombardy in northern Italy, where 50,000 people have been placed under lockdown in 11 towns, schools have been shut and public events banned.

The man died in Bergamo after he was taken to hospital with an unrelated illness but was later found to have the coronavirus, Italian media said. 

Italy has confirmed more than 200 cases of the virus, by far the largest number outside China, Japan and South Korea. 

The outbreak has sparked fears that tourists returning from Italy could send the epidemic spiralling across Europe, with many Britons back at school and work after the half-term break today. 

One British Airways flight to Milan was delayed this morning after a passenger left the plane shortly before take-off at Heathrow, allegedly because they feared they would catch the virus.   

The wealthy Lombardy region which includes Milan is the worst-affected region, while 25 people have been infected in neighbouring Veneto which includes Venice.   

Authorities in Lombardy and Veneto have banned public events including Masses, while Milan's famous cathedral has been closed to visitors and bars and restaurants have been ordered to close. 

Armed personnel were today guarding the Milan church and stopping drivers near a town in Lombardy where one of the virus victims died.  

Supermarket shelves and train carriages were empty this morning as panic-buying Italians prepared to stay at home to fend off the virus. 

As the panic spread last night, Austria halted trains from crossing the Alps into Italy after two German women reported a fever on board, although they later tested negative. 

The outbreak has also forced the stoppage of high-profile events including the Venice Carnival, Milan Fashion Week and Serie A football fixtures. 

South Korea also reported a further surge in cases today, while the crisis in Iran has led to the first cases in nearby Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait, and four British tourists from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive back in the UK.  


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