Coronavirus: 11 Italian Cities under Quarantine, France is Preparing for a Possible “Epidemic”

General News
A pharmacist wearing a protective mask serves a client, February 22, 2020 in Codogno, Italy.

The Minister of Health Olivier Véran considers “very likely” the possibility of new cases in France, while two people died from the coronavirus in Italy.

Italy has become the first country in Europe to quarantine cities by isolating 11 municipalities to fight against the coronavirus.

Read also: Coronavirus: a second death recorded in Italy

France is also preparing for a possible “epidemic” of Covid-19, according to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, who says he is “attentive to the situation in Italy”. In an interview with the newspaper Le Parisien, he considers “very likely” the possibility of new cases in France.

52,000 people affected in Italy

In northern Italy, around 52,000 people wake up on Sunday in areas where “neither entry nor exit will be allowed unless there is a special exemption,” as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced.

Closure of businesses and schools, cancellation of cultural and sporting events, postponement of football matches: the Italian government is trying to shut down part of Lombardy and Veneto and curb the epidemic.

The first containment measure was issued on January 23 for the 11 million inhabitants of Wuhan, a city in central China where the epidemic of viral pneumonia started in December.

In Italy, the home is in Codogno, near Milan. An AFP team saw strangely deserted streets there for a Saturday evening. “We are all afraid, but we cross our fingers, we hope everything will be fine,” said Rosa, a pharmacy worker, the only type of establishment authorized to remain open. She now fears “supply problems in the coming days”.

79 cases in Italy

Conte warned that he could use the military to monitor checkpoints. The legislative decree issued on Saturday provides for sanctions of up to three months’ imprisonment for offenders.

In Italy, the most affected European country, there are a total of 79 patients to date, including three cases of contaminations known for weeks, contracted outside Italy. Two septuagenarians have succumbed to the disease in recent days.


Like Italy, Iran has taken drastic measures after recording 10 new cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 28. Five deaths are to be deplored. The Islamic Republic announced on Saturday the closure of educational institutions in 14 provinces, including Tehran.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the speed at which the virus has spread in this country.

“We have seen a very rapid increase (of cases) in a few days,” says Sylvie Briand, director of the Global Preparedness for Infectious Risks department at WHO.

In South Korea, two more deaths have been linked to the epidemic, bringing the death toll to four, the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced on Sunday morning.

2442 dead

In China, the death toll reached Sunday 2,442 after the announcement of 97 additional deaths, all except one in the central province of Hubei, the cradle of the new coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health also reported 648 new cases of contamination, bringing the national total to approximately 77,000.

The number of deaths announced Sunday for the last 24 hours is slightly down compared to that communicated the day before (109), but that of new cases of contamination is starting to rise again (397 Saturday)

A deserted street in Codogno, near Milan, on February 22, 2020 in Italy.
A deserted street in Codogno, near Milan, on February 22, 2020 in Italy. (© AFP / Miguel MEDINA)

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