Italy coronavirus cases surpass 100 as towns put on lockdown


Italy coronavirus cases surpass 100 as towns put on lockdown

Armani holds closed-door runway show as virus cases spike

Monday, February 24, 2020

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ROME, Italy (AFP) — The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has jumped to over 100, the president of the Lombardy region said yesterday, as northern towns struggle to contain rising infections.

“More than 100 cases” have now been reported throughout the country, Attilio Fontana told SkyTG24 television, with 89 of those in Lombardy, centred in the small town of Codogno, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) south-east of Milan.

Responding to a rising number of new cases, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday announced that 11 towns in Italy's north would be placed under quarantine, affecting about 50,000 people.

Two people have already died from the so-called COVID-19 epidemic in Italy, which was the first country to ban direct flights to and from China in January.

First to contract the virus were two Chinese tourists who were placed under quarantine in Rome and remain there. Another man, who was also held at the same hospital in Rome, has since recovered and been released, authorities said.

The number of those infected also includes people living in four other regions of Italy.

Authorities have warned that the number of cases — which were 79 on Saturday — may continue to rise.

Conte has urged Italians, however, “not to give in to feelings of panic”.

Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani held its Milan Fashion Week show behind closed doors yesterday after Italy announced a spike in coronavirus cases and imposed lockdown measures in some areas.

Italy has confirmed 152 cases of the virus, including three deaths linked to it, and has imposed travel and movement restrictions for tens of thousands of residents in several northern towns.

Anxiety over the outbreak — which has killed more than 2,400 and infected some 80,000 people, mostly in China — crept onto the catwalk as Milan closed its five-day fashion week yesterday.

Giorgio Armani said it would hold its womenswear show to an empty room as a precaution: “The decision was taken to safeguard the well-being of all his invited guests by not having them attend crowded spaces,” the brand said in a statement on Saturday.

The show was, however, livestreamed on its website, Instagram and Facebook pages.

Elsewhere at Milan Fashion week Italian designer Laura Biagiotti cancelled her show, while some attendees donned face masks.

The decision was praised by some.

“I am happy that Giorgio Armani today has decided, together with the Biagiotti line... not to do the parades in the usual way but to do them behind closed doors,” said fashion critic Eva Desiderio.

Dolce & Gabbana took a less drastic approach and held their events as planned.

But for some attendees the thought of being crammed into shows and parties was enough to spark anxiety.

“We've all been in contact with hundreds of people, it gives me chills to think of all these interactions,” said a woman working in the Fendi showroom.

Despite fears gripping some crowds, many of Saturday night's dinners and parties were well attended, including Bottega Veneta's fete celebrating its collection unveiled earlier in the day.

Some journalists covering the event warned of hysteria setting in.

“The concern over the virus is becoming alarmist. We have to be careful to not give into the panic,” said one journalist from an Italian fashion publication.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the lockdown measures could last for weeks.

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