The Venice Carnival festival will close Sunday, several days ahead of schedule, because of the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, the head of the region said on Sky TG24 television Sunday.
More than 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Italy as parts of the country’s north were locked down on Sunday as authorities struggle to deal with a rise in infections.
Around 50,000 people in 11 towns have been placed effectively in quarantine with nearby sporting fixtures postponed and Sunday church services cancelled.
Businesses, restaurants and schools have also been closed in Veneto and Lombardy.
Two Italian citizens have already died from the virus.
The government said that local authorities can call in the military to enforce the quarantine if needed.
According to the President of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, 89 of the cases are in his province centred around the small town of Codogno, about 70 kilometres southeast of Milan.
"The contagiousness of this virus is very strong and pretty virulent," said Giulio Gallera, a senior figure in Lombardy’s healh department said.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has urged Italians "not to give in to feelings of panic”.
Mr Conte, however, said Italy won’t seek a suspension of the Schengen agreement, which gets rid of immigration controls between 26 European countries.
Coronavirus did not have much of an effect on Milan’s world-renowned fashion week Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian National Fashion Chamber.
“It doesn’t seem to me in this moment for what regards our sector, our fashion week, that there are signs of danger. We are tranquil and prudent,” he told the Associated Press.
The onset in Italy has led to increased vigilance in neighbouring France with Heath Minister Olivier Veran saying “it is very likely” cases will increase.
He told Le Parisien Dimanche that more masks are being distributed and laboratories are being supplied with extra equipment so they can carry out more tests.
Updated: February 24, 2020 08:33 AM