REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
- Italy is scrambling to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders as cases of COVID-19 soar, making it the most infected country outside Asia.
- As of Wednesday morning, 12 people in Italy had died from the disease.
- The country has put almost a dozen towns under lockdown, canceled major sporting events, and debated closing its borders with neighboring countries.
- Other European countries are worried about how the virus might spread.
- The two most infected regions are Lombardy and Veneto in the north of Italy, home to Milan and Venice. New cases are also being reported in Southern Italy.
Italy is scrambling to counter a coronavirus outbreak after a sharp spike in cases and deaths made it the worst-hit country outside Asia.
As of Wednesday morning, 12 people in Italy had died from the virus and at least 322 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the country.
All the deaths involved people who were elderly or had other health complications, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The country has put 11 towns on lockdown with the hope of containing the spread.
The two most infected regions are Lombardy and Veneto in the north, which contain the major cities of Milan and Venice. But the virus has also spread farther south, with regions including Tuscany and the island of Sicily also reporting cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced an emergency plan to quarantine towns late on Saturday, locking down the settlements by blocking most travel to and from them. He said the quarantine could last for weeks, the BBC reported.
Italian officials estimated on Monday that about 100,000 peoplein the country were affected by travel restrictions. Schools, museums, and theaters across the region have been closed in these areas.