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24 Feb 2020 | 10:57 AM UTC

Italy: COVID-19 outbreak leaves seven dead in country as of February 24 /update 7

COVID-19 outbreak leaves seven people dead in Italy as of February 24, with number of confirmed cases exceeding 220; further international spread of COVID-19 to be expected over near term

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ITA

Event

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has left seven people dead in Italy as of Monday, February 24, with the number of confirmed cases of the infection in the country now exceeding 220. Most cases reported in Italy have been recorded in the Lombardy region. Restrictions have been implemented in affected regions, including the suspension of public events in several municipalities, controls on freedom of movement, closure of public buildings, transportation cancelations, and the surveillance and quarantine of individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

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 more than 30 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.

Advice

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by 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 the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and your home government.

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 prevent the potential spread of the disease.