Three more people have been confirmed dead in Italy as the coronavirus continues to spread across Europe.
Angelo Borelli, the chief of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, said the number of virus cases in the country increased 45% in the last day and there now have been 10 deaths.Sponsored link
Mr Borrelli told reporters the three dead had all been in their 80s and came from Lombardy, the worst impacted region.
He added that the number of confirmed cases in Italy had risen to 322, the vast majority of them in the north of the country.
It came after Switzerland, Austria and Croatia confirmed their first cases of the virus in their countries on Tuesday.
The cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, involved people who had recently travelled from virus-hit parts of neighbouring Italy.
Countries confirming cases in Europe today:
- Austria – a local authority health spokeswoman said there were two cases in the Tyrol region
- Spain – healthy ministry confirmed a woman in Barcelona who went to northern Italy recently has tested positive
- Switzerland – government confirmed the country’s first case
- Croatia – prime minister confirmed the country’s first case
- Italy – governor of Sicily announced a woman on the island was diagnosed with the illness
Iran’s deputy health minister and head of the country’s anti-coronavirus taskforce, Iraj Harirchi, also tested positive for the virus after being seen sweating and appearing uncomfortable at a news conference on Monday.
A separate MP for Tehran has also been infected and citizens there are being advised to stay at home, according to state media.
And a plane load of people – 132 passengers and crew – on board an evacuation flight of Turkish citizens out of Iran have landed and been put into quarantine at a hospital in Ankara.
So far 13 people in the UK have tested positive for COVID-19; the latest four were travellers rescued from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
Globally there are 80,347 suspected and confirmed cases and 2,705 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins hospital – one of the biggest medical researchers in the world which is collating the figures.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he didn’t think any Britons were trapped in the areas being quarantined by the Italian government but the “significant outbreak” of cases there was “worrying”.
“I’m pretty worried,” he told Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast. “We’ve got the plans in place. At the moment the containment here is going well, but it’s my job to be worried.
“That’s what you’d expect of a health secretary in the middle of what is a global outbreak.
“There is a good chance that we contain this at this sort of level where the number of cases – although we expect more cases in the UK – the number of cases is relatively low as now.”
He added anyone who has also returned from Iran, special care zones in South Korea and Hubei province in China should also self-isolate immediately.How to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
In other developments:
- Hundreds of tourists at a hotel in Tenerife are reportedly being tested after a confirmed case
- Middle East countries close borders with Iran after deputy health minister gets virus, said state media
- Two schools in Cheshire shut after students return from Italy ski trips with “flu-like symptoms”
- A Korean Air flight attendant has tested positive for the virus
- South Korean officials are investigating a possible link between a Christian sect and a spike of infections
- Bahrain cancelled all flights to and from Dubai airport – one of the busiest in the world
- A health adviser suggested coronavirus could be feared “Disease X”
- Global stock markets are sliding further after the biggest one-day falls for several years
COVID-19 has been fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the elderly and ill the most vulnerable, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A spokesman has warned countries to up their preparedness, saying the virus is “literally knocking at the door”.
At least 283 people have had the disease and five have died, with a further two fatalities reported, in Italy so far.
Among the worst-affected regions is Lombardy, which includes the country’s financial capital of Milan where major football games have been called off and cinemas and theatres were closed. Supermarkets were also pictured with empty shelves.
Authorities there are scrambling to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, which has prompted Austria to assemble a special taskforce to consider border controls.
There are thought to be 11 towns on lockdown at the moment containing at least 50,000 inhabitants, with 500 police controlling 43 access points – Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano in Lombardy; as well as Vo’ Euganeo in the Veneto region.
Those who refuse to stay put inside the zones could be jailed for up to three months.
Oladimeji Mudele, who is studying for a PhD in Pavia – which is on lockdown – told Sky News on Tuesday morning most of his fellow students from southern Italy had returned home.
The streets are near-empty with shops closed and public gatherings at the university suspended, he added.
Antonio Bernocchi, a store manager from Milan quarantined in Cogodno, said he was being kept in the “red zone” and adjusting to a “new normality”.
He urged people to “stay calm” and “just follow the rules that the politicians have given to us”
Questions have also been raised over whether the upcoming Six Nations rugby match between Italy and England due to take place in Stadio Olimpico in Rome could have to go ahead in Twickenham instead, if the coronavirus threat grows.
A spokesperson for the company told Sky News they were monitoring the situation and in regular contact with the Italian authorities.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hancock reassured travellers it was still “reasonable” to travel to southern Italy and official advice to those heading there has not been changed.
But the governor of Sicily, which is in the south, later said a woman on holiday from the north had been diagnosed with the illness.
The tourist has been taken to hospital in the island’s capital of Palermo.The infection numbers in real time
Up to 1,000 holidaymakers visiting Tenerife in the Canary Islands have also been left trapped in their hotel rooms after an Italian doctor tested positive for the virus, who has now been quarantined in a local clinic.
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, and was identified on 16 January