Italian authorities are expected to pass legislation on Saturday, March 7, ordering a lockdown of Lombardy region and 11 other provinces in four other Italian regions over concerns from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country, effective Sunday, March 8. Under the directives, from Sunday, individuals will be instructed to not enter or leave Lombardy region or the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, and Rimini in Emilia-Romagna region, the provinces of Venice, Padua, and Treviso in Veneto region, the provinces of Asti and Alessandria in Piedmont region, and the province of Pesaro and Urbino in Marche region. In these provinces and across Lombardy region, all museums, cultural centers, gyms, ski resorts, and swimming pools will be closed. Additionally, the draft legislation calls for an increase in working from home, and for weddings, funerals, and sports events to be canceled in affected areas. Schools and universities in Lombardy region and the abovementioned provinces will be closed until at least April 3, adding to the government's call for schools across Italy to be closed until March 15.
As of Saturday, Italy has recorded over 5800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 230 associated deaths.
Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.
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.
On February 22, authorities implemented restrictions on movement in 11 towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions that were deemed hot spots for COVID-19. Affected towns include Codogno, Casalpusterlengo, Castiglione d'Adda, Maleo, Fombio, Bertonico, Castelgerundo, Somaglia, San Fiorano, Terranova dei Passerini, and Vo Euganeo. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that no one would be allowed to enter or leave the designated areas without special permission.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
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 or planning travel to affected areas in Italy are advised to monitor epidemiological developments, prepare for related travel and business disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, 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.
Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran 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.
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