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22 Feb 2020 | 08:23 PM UTC

Italy: Towns in Lombardy and Veneto placed on lockdown February 22 /update 5

Officials place towns in Lombardy and Veneto with coronavirus (COVID-19) hotspots on lockdown February 22; at least 79 cases confirmed nationwide



New entry restrictions are in place for towns in Lombardy and Veneto regions that are deemed hotspots for coronavirus (COVID-19) as of Saturday, February 22. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Saturday that no one will be allowed to enter or leave the designated areas without special permission. Schools and businesses have been shut down in the regions and public events are banned. An estimated 50,000 people are being impacted by the new restrictions, which are expected to remain in place for several weeks. Health officials have ordered anyone who has come into direct contact with people who tested positive for coronavirus to be quarantined for 14 days. Additional containment measures may be implemented over the coming days and weeks.

Travel restrictions between Italy and China remain in place as of Saturday. All direct air traffic between the two countries has been suspended and thermal screenings are being conducted at all ports of entry.

As of Saturday, 79 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout Italy, including two associated fatalities. Cases have largely been reported in Lombardy and Veneto, including in Milan. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 31 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Individuals in the affected regions are advised to monitor developments to the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.

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