On Sunday February 23, more than 50,000 Italians woke up in quarantine. The government of Giuseppe Conte published a decree-law late Saturday evening, placing eleven communes in isolation. The first zone covers ten Lombard cities around the city of Codogno, the center of the epidemic, south of Milan. The second concerns the village of Vo’Euganeo near Padua in Veneto, 200 kilometers east of Codogno.
Coronavirus cases in Italy are increasing: 89 in Lombardy and 43 in four other regions Sunday, February 23 in the morning, according to civil protection reports the daily Corriere della Serra. Of these, 26 are in intensive care and three died on February 20 and 22.
Life in slow motion, masses suspended for an indefinite period
Residents are asked to observe a self-quarantine. Initial control points for containment zones are, however, put in place by the police. The decree provides for penalties of up to three months’ imprisonment for offenders.
Carnival holidays are extended. Businesses, schools and universities are closed, as well as public places (maries, libraries, bars, etc.), cultural and sporting events are canceled, the Venice Carnival interrupted. In Milan, the mayor announced the closure of schools for a week and Archbishop Mario Delpini suspended all masses for an indefinite period, “depending on the evolution of the situation”. A particularly strong decision in the largest diocese of Italy (more than 1,000 parishes) three days before the start of Lent.
The unsolved chain of contamination
At the moment, scientists are struggling to identify the “patient zero” and therefore to establish the chain of contamination between patients: a necessity to curb the epidemic of viral pneumonia.
→ INFOGRAPHY. Coronavirus, where is the epidemic?
Patient 1 for Lombardy is a 38-year-old man, part of the multinational Unilever located near Codogno. He infected his pregnant wife and several people. His illness remains a mystery. One of his friends who returned from China was eventually expelled as he did not develop antibodies to the virus. The Corriere della Serra reports cases of contamination not yet clarified. Like this 68 year old woman hospitalized in intensive care in Veneto, but without connection to Vo’Euganeo. Or this patient hospitalized in Milan, coming from Sesto San Giovanni, about ten kilometers north of the Lombard capital, unrelated to Codogno and its surroundings where most of the cases are concentrated.
President Xi Jinping recognized Sunday “Gaps” in response to the epidemic in China. It continues to grow in several countries, notably in South Korea and Iran. The World Health Organization highlights the “Potential risk of more cases being exported in the coming days”. Scientists at Imperial college in London released a study on February 21 stating that“About two-thirds of the cases of Covid-19 (the name of the coronavirus) out of China have remained undetected globally, with the potential result of undetected multiple chains of human transmission outside of China.”