Officials in Lombardy, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, said cases rose overnight from 240 to 259, with four children, including a 4-year-old girl, infected in the first such cases in the country. The illness has now spread to seven other regions, including Sicily in the far south, with the total number of cases nationwide climbing above 350.
The head of the national Civil Protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told reporters the death toll had risen to 12 from 11 the day before, with a 69-year old man dying in the northern region of Emilia
Italians or people who recently visited the north of the country have tested positive in Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, and France since the weekend, illustrating how far and fast the illness – which was first identified in China last month – could spread.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sought to address spiraling prices and shortages of protective equipment, food, and other goods. “Panic is a completely unjustified reaction that compromises the overall efficiency of the system and triggers regrettable speculations on the prices of some products.”
“The food supply will be ensured with appropriate measures, especially in the ‘cluster’ areas. Calm is brought back through punctual and transparent communication,” he said.
The fact that the authorities have still not found “patient zero,” the first carrier of the virus in the country, is a problem, however. The outbreak has caused tension between the government in Rome and regional authorities, particularly in the north, and especially after Conte suggested that an unnamed hospital had not followed the correct procedure to deal with the outbreak.