Health

First European coronavirus deaths in Italy send towns into lockdown

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Ten Italian towns remain in lockdown and residents warned to keep out of an emergency room on Saturday as a second death from coronavirus sparked fears throughout the region.

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The victim was a female resident in Milan's Lombardy region, ANSA said. Her reported death comes hours after a 77-year-old man died overnight near Padua, in the nearby Veneto region. He was the first local person in Europe to die from the coronavirus.

ANSA reported that the new victim was a woman. No further information was immediately available.

Italy's health minister said that the man who died on Friday, Adriano Trevisan, had been admitted to hospital 10 days earlier for an unrelated health issue.

He was one of two people in the Veneto region with the virus, where another confirmed case overnight in a 53-year-old man brought that number to three, president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia told Rai24 news.

Veneto region head Luca Zaia said earlier Friday "a sanitary ring" would be created around Vo' Euganeo, and all 3,300 inhabitants would be tested

In Lombardy, 16 other people were discovered to have caught the virus and the region took immediate measures to isolate affected areas.

It was not immediately clear whether the victim on Saturday was part of that group, or a new case.

Over 50,000 people have been asked to stay at home in the areas concerned, while all public activities such as carnival celebrations, church masses and sporting events have been banned for up to a week.

Health ministry issues quarantine order

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared "everything is under control", and stressed the government was maintaining "an extremely high level of precaution".

Streets in the 10 Italian towns were deserted, with only a few people seen abroad, and signs showing public spaces closed.

In Casalpusterlengo, a large electronic message board outside the town hall read "Coronavirus: the population is invited to remain indoors as a precaution".

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said authorities were working out exactly who those with the virus had been in contact with and screening them all, "as the most effective way to contain the virus".

The first town to be shuttered was Codogno, with a population of 15,000, where three people tested positive for the virus, including a 38-year-old man and his wife, who is eight months pregnant.

The 38-year-old, who works for Unilever in Lodi, was in a serious condition in intensive care.

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