On Saturday, February 22, restrictions to movement have been implemented in 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto regions that are deemed hot spots for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Affected towns included Codogno, Casapusterlengo, Castiglione d'Adda, Maleo, Fombio, Bertonico, Castelgerundo, Somaglia, San Fiorano, Terranova dei Passerini, and Vo Euganeo. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that no one will be allowed to enter or leave the designated areas without special permission.
With the exception of the 11 cities mentioned above, the rest of the territory is not subject to any restricting measures, including entry and exit to neighboring France. Furthermore, in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Piedmont, public places (including museums, schools, universities, cinemas) will remain closed until further notice. In Lombardy, bars and night clubs will be closed starting at 18:00 (local time), while the popular Venetian carnival has been canceled. Also, some administrative entities in Milan have been closed to the public as of Monday, February 24. Additional containment measures may be implemented over the coming days and weeks.
To date, 229 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout Italy. 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 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.
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.