The first European to succumb to the coronavirus has died in Italy, just hours after 10 towns were locked down following a flurry of new cases.
A 78-year old Italian from the Veneto region who had tested positive for the virus died in hospital, where he had recovered some 10 days earlier for an unrelated health issue, Italy's health minister said.
Adriano Trevisan was a retired bricklayer and one of two with the disease in the region, while 15 other people were discovered to have caught the virus in Lombardy, which took immediate measures to isolate affected areas.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said "everything is under control", and stressed the government was maintaining "an extremely high level of precaution".
Over 50,000 people have been asked to stay at home in the areas concerned, while all public activities such as carnival celebrations, church masses and sporting events have been banned for up to a week.
Streets in the towns were deserted, with only a few people seen abroad, and signs showing public spaces closed.
In Casalpusterlengo, a large electronic message board outside the town hall read "Coronavirus: the population is invited to remain indoors as a precaution".
Masked passengers look on from on board the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama Port, south of Tokyo, Japan, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Passengers wait for transportation after leaving the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama Port, south of Tokyo, Japan, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
epa08229502 Australian evacuees from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan, disembark the Qantas flight QFA6032 at Darwin International Airport in Darwin, Australia, 20 February 2020. Hundreds of Australian nationals evacuated from the cruise ship will be quarantined at a workers camp in Howard Springs. EPA/HELEN ORR AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Health workers arrive at the newly-built public housing Chun Yeung Estate for quarantining passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus, at Fo Tan in Hong Kong, China February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Workers load luggage into a bus as a second group of passengers from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship disembark in Yokohama Port, south of Tokyo, Japan, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
This photo taken on February 19, 2020 shows police officers wearing protective face masks walking with horses on their way to visit residents who live in remote areas in Altay, farwest China's Xinjiang region, to promote the awareness of the virus. The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 2,112 on February 20 after 108 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak. - China OUT / AFP / STR
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: Chinese men wear protective masks in a residential neighbourhood on February 19, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of the deadly new coronavirus COVID-19 rose to more than 58000 in mainland China Wednesday, in what the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global public health emergency. China continued to lock down the city of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities have maintained and in some cases tightened the travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and also in municipalities in other parts of the country affecting tens of millions of people. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 2000 on Wednesday mostly in Hubei province, and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and several others. The World Health Organization has warned all governments to be on alert and screening has been stepped up at airports around the world. Some countries, including the United States, have put restrictions on Chinese travellers entering and advised their citizens against travel to China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks through the 1881 Heritage shopping mall, operated by CK Asset Holdings Ltd., in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Hong Kong is heading for its first back-to-back annual recessions on record, as the coronavirus shutdown cripples an economy already battered by months of political unrest. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk past a Salvatore Ferragamo SpA store on Canton Road in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Hong Kong is heading for its first back-to-back annual recessions on record, as the coronavirus shutdown cripples an economy already battered by months of political unrest. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg
A woman wearing a face mask walks at the Beijing Daxing International Airport, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
A staff member wearing face mask and goggles is seen at a counter at the Beijing Daxing International Airport, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
A man wearing a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus?walks at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Heo Ran
This handout picture taken on February 19, 2020 by Daegu Metropolitan City Namgu shows South Korean health officials wearing protective suit and spraying disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu as about 40 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus confirmed after they attended same church services. A cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred on a cult church in the South Korean city of Daegu leaped to 39 cases February 20, as the country's total spiked for the second successive day. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Daegu Metropolitan City Namgu" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / Daegu Metropolitan City Namgu / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Daegu Metropolitan City Namgu" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A worker and vehicle spray disinfectant and water as a precaution against the new coronavirus in front of the statue of King Sejong in the Joseon Dynasty, at the Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul, Thursday, Feb. 20. The mayor of the South Korean city of Daegu urged its 2.5 million people on Thursday to refrain from going outside as cases of the new virus spike. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
The first town to be shuttered was Codogno, with a population of 15,000, where three people tested positive for the virus, including a 38-year old man and his wife, who is eight months pregnant.
Three others there have tested positive to a first novel coronavirus test and are awaiting their definitive results.
Codogno mayor Francesco Passerini said the news of the cases "has sparked alarm" throughout the town south of Milan.
The 38-year old, who works for Unilever in Lodi, was in a serious condition in intensive care.
He had dined earlier this month with a man who had visited China in January, and had later shown flu-like symptoms, but has since tested negative for the virus, Italian media said.
A football friend of his, the son of a bar owner in Codogno, has also tested positive, along with three regulars at the bar.
The three, all of whom are retired, live in the small town of Castiglione d'Adda. The mayor there said the locals were "extremely worried" about the spread of the deadly disease.
Some 250 people were being placed in isolation after coming into contact with the new cases, according to the Lombardy region, and 60 worker at Unilever have been tested for the virus.
Trenord regional railway said its trains would no longer be stopping in three stations in the affected area.
The head of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, said a 78 and 67-year old, from the village of Vo' Euganeo, at the foot of the Euganean Hills near Padua, had tested positive.
He said "a sanitary ring" would be created around the village, where public spaces would be closed.
Three other cases of the virus in Italy are being treated in isolation at the Spallanzani Institute in Rome.
The outbreak of the so-called Covid-19 illness which began in December has killed more than 2,200 people and infected more than 75,500 in China.
Over 1,150 people have been infected and eight have died across 26 other countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
Updated: February 22, 2020 04:44 AM