The FINANCIAL — The last two days of the Venice Carnival have been cancelled because of an outbreak of coronavirus. Three people in Venice have tested positive for the viral disease. The Middle East was also on high alert as Iran announced eight people had died from the virus.
Europe confronted its first major outbreak of the coronavirus as an eruption of more than 150 cases in Italy prompted officials on Sunday to lock down at least 10 towns, close schools in major cities and cancel sporting events and cultural touchstones, including the end of the Venice carnival. Residents were supposed to leave or enter the towns only with special permission, affecting at least 50,000 people, and by Sunday night, police officers in surgical masks were waving down cars, as reported by The New York post.
Authorities said three people in Venice have tested positive for the viral disease known as Covid-19, all of them in their late 80s and who were taken to hospital in critical condition. Concern was also on the rise in Austria, which halted all rail traffic to and from Italy for several hours after suspicion that a train at its southern border with Italy had two passengers possibly infected with the virus on board, authorities said. Austria’s interior ministry said it had been informed by Italy’s railway company that two passengers had a fever and stopped the train at the Brenner crossing before it could enter Austria, Express & Star wrote.
At least four people have died in Italy, including an 84-year-old man who died overnight in Bergamo. While Italian authorities cancelled soccer matches and closed schools, theater performances, they also sought to calm fears by noting the virus’ low mortality rate compared to the seasonal flu. The four people who died were all elderly and two of them had other serious ailments, according to The Washington Times.
Most of Italy’s coronavirus cases are in the wealthy industrial north of the country, in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto. To deal with this emergency, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte explained the government’s decisions. He said an emergency decree was approved immediately that gives special powers to the government in order to be able to safeguard in the best possible way the health of Italians. In Milan, Giorgio Armani was holding his womenswear fashion show behind closed doors as a precaution. Italian designer Laura Biagiotti canceled her show. Italian health officials are struggling to figure out how the outbreak began. Very early on the Italian government took measures against the coronavirus including the suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights from China, Voice of America wrote.
The Middle East was also on high alert as Iran announced eight people had died from the virus, marking the highest count outside of China. Afghanistan and Armenia announced on Sunday that they were closing their borders to the country as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed concerns about coronavirus within the region as an attempt to sow chaos in the country’s elections that were held on Friday, Business Insider reported.
Meanwhile, More than 1,000 members of a church in South Korea’s fourth-largest city have flu-like symptoms, leading government officials there to ask residents to stay indoors, according to New York Post. Read more.