Military officers outside the Duomo cathedral, closed by authorities because of the coronavirus outbreak, in Milan on February 24.

Military officers outside the Duomo cathedral, closed by authorities because of the coronavirus outbreak, in Milan on February 24.

Italy the most infected country outside of Asia

sbaker@businessinsider.com (Sinéad Baker)

REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

  • Italy is scrambling to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders as cases of COVID-19 soar.
  • Italy has the most cases outside of Asia. As of Wednesday evening, 12 people there 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.
  • 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 fight a coronavirus outbreak after a sharp spike in cases and deaths made it the worst-hit country outside of Asia.

As of Wednesday evening, 12 people in Italy had died from the virus. Italian authorities reported at least 400 cases of COVID-19 in the country, according to the BBC.

All the people who have died in Italy were elderly or had other health complications, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the Associated Press reported.

The country has put 11 towns on lockdown to contain the virus’ 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.

 

People walk past the Duomo in Milan on February 23.
People walk past the Duomo in Milan on February 23.

 

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 people in the country were affected by the travel restrictions. Schools, museums, and theaters across the region have been closed.

Police officers and members of the armed forces have been given the authority to enforce the lockdown, the BBC reported.