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Italy reports 7 deaths, 222 confirmed cases of coronavirus

Published : 24 Feb 2020, 22:34

Updated : 24 Feb 2020, 23:40

  DF-Xinhua Report

Tourists wearing masks are seen in Venice, Italy, Feb. 23, 2020. Photo Xinhua/Cheng Tingting.

Seven people have died and 222 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide in Italy, Angelo Borrelli, chief of Civil Protection Department and extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, told a press conference at 6 p.m. local time on Monday.

   Of the infected people, 101 are hospitalised, 94 are quarantined at home and 27 are in intensive care, Borrelli said.

   The numbers are up from 213 cases nationwide announced by the Ministry of Health at 12 noon on Monday.

   The majority of the cases are in the Lombardy region -- whose capital is Milan -- where regional officials said an 84-year-old man died in hospital overnight and an 88-year-old man died on Monday, bringing the total death toll for the region to five, officials announced during a press conference held at 5 p.m. local time.

   A total of 172 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in the region since the epidemic broke out there on Feb. 21, according to Giulio Gallera, head of the Lombardy Regional Council's Health Department.

   He added that 90 percent of the cases have been reported in the cities of Lodi, Cremona and Pavia, and that 70 percent of the infected are men.

   "The virus as we have seen is highly contagious but the people it affects the most are elderly and with health conditions that are already compromised," Gallera said on Monday.

   In a daily media briefing on Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "the sudden increase of cases in Italy (is) deeply concerning" but this does not mean the epidemic has become a pandemic.

   Also on Monday, the Ministry of Health tweeted that Dr. Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), has "decided to send a team of ECDC experts to Italy to support the Ministry of Health in their efforts to limit the local transmission of COVID-19."

   Meanwhile, Italy's tourism association Federturismo Confindustria said in a statement on Monday that it had sent a letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asking for a state of emergency to be declared for the tourism sector, which it said "represents 10 percent of (national gross domestic product) GDP and employs over four million workers."

   "The latest grave news about the spread of coronavirus in our country have brought the Italian tourism industry to its knees," the statement noted.

   "Cautious estimates saw losses of five billion euros but now we can no longer estimate the impact," commented Federturismo Confindustria Vice President Marina Lalli.

   "The season is compromised" due to "thousands of cancelations" and "missed bookings for the entire second semester of 2020," the statement added.

   The FTSE MIB -- the benchmark stock market index for the Borsa Italiana -- plunged by minus 5.43 percent at the close on Monday on coronavirus fears, with the travel and entertainment index posting the biggest loss at minus 12.03 percent, the Italian Stock Exchange reported on its website.