A first in Europe. Italy announced on Saturday the isolation for about two weeks of a dozen municipalities in northern Italy, after the discovery of dozens of cases of contamination with the new coronavirus in two days, and three deaths, the first Europeans on the continent.
About 52,000 people wake up this Sunday morning in areas where “neither entry nor exit will be allowed unless special dispensation”, as announced by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Update on the situation.
Where are the homes?
The main focus is in Codogno, 60 km south of Milan. In this city and nine neighboring localities, all public places (bars, town halls, libraries, schools) except pharmacies have been closed since Friday evening.
The other area is the village of Vo ‘Euganeo where the first death of an Italian (and European), a 78-year-old mason named Adriano Trevisan, was announced on Friday evening. The second death of a woman of the same age occurred near Codogno overnight.
What actions have been taken?
Italy was the first country in Europe to establish quarantine of cities by isolating eleven municipalities: neither the entry nor the exit of these zones is authorized, except derogation. The Italian Prime Minister also announced the closure of businesses and educational establishments in these areas as well as the cancellation of public events (carnivals, sports competitions, school trips, etc.). Measures that will last in Veneto until March 1.
According to Giuseppe Conte, the isolation measures will concern around 52,000 people, including 47,000 near Codogno, “but people will be able to circulate inside these areas”. If necessary, to monitor the checkpoints, Giuseppe Conte said he would send the army. The legislative decree provides for sanctions of up to three months’ imprisonment.
Three Serie A championship games scheduled for this Sunday have been postponed: Inter-Sampdoria, Atalanta-Sassuolo, and Verona-Cagliari. They were to take place in the two most affected regions: Lombardy (around Milan) and Veneto (around Venice). The universities of these two major regions will be closed as a precaution.
The end of the Venice Carnival
At midday, Sunday, the governor of the province of Veneto announced the end of the Venice carnival. “From this evening, we plan to stop Carnival and all sporting events until March 1,” said Luca Zaia, announcing a series of measures to thwart the advance of the virus.
The most famous carnival, with that of Rio, had started on February 8 and should normally have continued until February 25.
How does isolation work?
In the “epicenter of the home”, Codogno – 15,000 inhabitants – journalists saw deserted streets for a Saturday evening. “We are all afraid, but we cross our fingers, we hope everything will be fine,” said Rosa, a pharmacist, saying that she feared “supply problems in the coming days”.
The trains of the private company Trenord no longer stop at the stations of Codogno and two neighboring cities, inhabited by many people working in the metropolis of Milan, the Italian economic capital. In Codogno, luminous signs announce: “Coronavirus, the population is invited to stay at home, as a precautionary measure”.
Signs were placed on schools, churches, sports halls, libraries, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Erika, a waitress in a restaurant that has closed for 15 days, admits to being “a little scared because we can all be contaminated”. “We buy food supplies because we do not know if the supermarkets will remain open,” she adds, noting that the family bought drinks “to spend a quiet evening” but “all locked up at home”.
In Veneto, shocked by having registered the first Italian death, the authorities subjected Chinese nationals who frequented the Vo ‘Euganeo bar to tests, like the mason Adriano Trevisan.
How many cases?
Italy has 132 cases of contamination with the new coronavirus, announced Sunday in a new report the head of Civil Protection, Angelo Borrelli.
According to his count, these cases, which include two people who died between Friday and Saturday, are 89 in Lombardy (region of Milan), 25 in Veneto (region of Venice), 9 in Emilia Romagna (around Bologna), 6 in Piedmont (Turin) to which are added 3 in the region of Rome (Lazio), which are cases where the virus was contracted outside Italy.
The head of civil protection added that more than 3000 tests of the Covid-19 have been carried out in recent days and that at least part of the results are expected “in the afternoon” on Sunday.
According to the Lombardy authorities, the focus of this region originates from Mattia, a 38-year-old researcher, “patient 1”, hospitalized in intensive care since Wednesday in Codogno and transferred Saturday to Pavia. His illness is a mystery because it is excluded that he was infected by one of his friends who returned from China in January. “Based on the tests, [the friend] did not develop the antibodies,” said Deputy Minister of Health Pierpaolo Sileri.
Very athletic, this executive from the American multinational Unilever, participated in several marathons in early February. A total of 120 out of 160 local head office employees were tested. Unintentionally, he infected his 8-month pregnant wife, a friend with whom he played soccer and three regulars at a local bar. The other cases in the home are doctors, nursing assistants, and patients from Codogno hospital who have infected those around them.
And in Milan?
Despite fears, the Milan Fashion Week parades continued “quietly, without panic,” said the president of the Fashion Chamber, Carlo Capasa. The designer Giorgio Armani, however, announced on Saturday evening that he will parade his closed-door models on Sunday with streaming retransmission on his site “so as not to put the health of the participants at risk”.