Chaos as Italy Quarantines 16M

Country abruptly locks down much of the north over rapidly spreading coronavirus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2020 7:01 AM CDT
Italy Just Quarantined 16M People
Chairs are empty at a cafe in Largo Argentina square amid growing concern about the spread of a new coronavirus in Rome Saturday, March 7, 2020. Italy is taking an almighty hit to its already weak economy from being the focal point of the coronavirus emergency in Europe.   (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

Italy announced a sweeping quarantine early Sunday for its northern regions, igniting travel chaos as it restricted the movements of a quarter of its people in a bid to halt the new coronavirus' relentless march across Europe. Shortly after midnight, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree affecting 16 million people in the country's prosperous north, including the Lombardy region and at least 14 provinces in neighboring regions. The extraordinary measures will be in place until April 3. “For Lombardy and for the other northern provinces that I have listed, there will be a ban for everybody to move in and out of these territories and also within the same territory," Conte said, per the AP. "Exceptions will be allowed only for proven professional needs, exceptional cases, and health issues.” Italy on Saturday reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since its outbreak began Feb. 21. The number of infected people rose 1,247 in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 5,883. Italy's death toll rose to 233. Elsewhere:

  • In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged older adults and people with severe medical conditions to "stay home as much as possible" and avoid crowds. A federal official told the AP that the White House had overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and sick Americans not fly on commercial airlines.
  • The Grand Princess cruise ship, where 21 people have tested positive for the virus, was headed to the port of Oakland, California, after idling off San Francisco for days. There is evidence the ship was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of almost 20 cases during an earlier voyage. The ship, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, is expected to reach Oakland on Monday.
  • In Egypt, a cruise ship on the Nile carrying more than 150 people was under quarantine in the southern city of Luxor after 45 people on board tested positive for the virus.
  • The port of Penang in Malaysia turned away the Costa Fortuna cruise ship because 64 of the 2,000 aboard are from Italy. The ship, which had already been rejected by Thailand, was heading to Singapore.
(More coronavirus stories.)

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