LOver the weekend, an 80-year-old Chinese tourist died of the virus in France, the first fatality in Europe.
In Lombardy, the government has banned all public events and closed schools in several small towns southeast of the financial capital of Milan.
“We have prepared a plan in the past few days because it was clear what could have happened somehow,” said Health Minister Hope as doctors tested hundreds of people who may have come in contact with coronavirus patients.
Speaking on the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Brussels before Italian fatality was announced, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would meet with the heads of the Italian civil protection agency and that the situation was under control.
“We were ready for this (outbreak) … people don’t need to worry, we will take increasingly stringent and precautionary measures,” he said.
Local officials reported that the first infected patient in Lombardy, a 38-year-old man from the city of Lodi, fell ill after meeting a friend who had recently visited China.
The man has since tested negative for the disease, but doctors were investigating whether he had brought the virus and subsequently recovered without showing any symptoms, said Lombardy regional councilor Giulio Gallera.
The initial patient’s pregnant wife and one of her friends were infected, along with three others hospitalized overnight with symptoms similar to pneumonia. Later officials reported that five health workers who had come into contact with virus carriers had fallen ill.
Zaia said it is not clear how the two Venetian individuals may have caught the disease. “There was certainly no contact with infected people in Lodi,” he said.
Prior to Friday, Italy had reported only three cases of viruses that first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.