Fears of a global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are growing around the world as cases of reported infections surge in areas outside of China. On Saturday, a dozen towns in northern Italy were placed on lockdown after two people infected with the virus passed away, amid a growing cluster of cases in the area. A total of 50,000 people throughout Italy were asked to stay indoors until further notice.
What is most alarming is that many of these cases that developed in Italy did not have any direct ties to China where the virus began, which means that there could be many more people infected who don’t even realize it yet.
Local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions closed schools, businesses, restaurants and canceled all sporting events and religious services. Meanwhile, public offices were shut down in Milan, Italy’s business capital. Both of the patients who passed away in Italy were in their late 70s, but there have also been many young and middle-aged people who have lost their lives to the virus.
According to the Associated Press, here are currently 54 confirmed cases of the illness in Italy, but those 54 people have come into contact with hundreds of others in recent days and weeks. Authorities have been working to track down the people who these patients have come into contact with and place them into isolation. Currently, hundreds of these people have been rounded up and placed in isolation throughout the country.
In addition to the two patients that have already passed away, another patient, who was the first identified in the northern cluster, in the town of Codogno, is currently in critical condition. Despite the fact that this man is the first identified in the region, he had not recently traveled to China. 39 of the country’s 54 confirmed cases are in and around the town of Codogno.
Another cluster in Lombardy, Italy, could actually be traced to a man who returned from China on January 21, but it appears that these two clusters may have had separate sources and did not originate from the same patient, because researchers have not been able to find any clear link between these two clusters. Even more disturbing is the fact that the man who recently returned from China still has not exhibited any symptoms.
A recent case study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that people who don’t exhibit symptoms of the illness can still be carriers. The study highlights the case of a woman who caught the illness in Wuhan without showing any symptoms and then traveled from the city to spend time with family, where she infected five family members with the virus before she even realized that she was sick.
The number of cases is continuing to rise by the day. There are now over 76,000 confirmed cases of the illness all over the world, and over 2,000 lives have been taken by the virus so far. However, these statistics have been heavily debated, and are further confused by the fact that a variety of different tests and methods of confirming cases are being used, and these standards are changing constantly.
Currently, the virus has already spread to 26 countries and territories outside of mainland China.
#Italy has locked down 10 towns and asked more than 50,000 people to stay home after 2 deaths and 58 confirmed #Coronavirus cases.
Govt banned all public events and closing schools, offices and sports venues.@AJEnglish #意大利2人死於武肺#10市鎮封鎖 pic.twitter.com/NYdb4ltPRX
— Nikki😷 (@nikki_miumiu) February 22, 2020