A 78-year-old man died of COVID-19 in the northern city of Padua, officials said. The number of confirmed cases stands at 20, according to an online virus tracker from Johns Hopkins.
The man was from the small town of Vo’ Euganeo, about 30 miles southeast of Padua, and was hospitalized two weeks ago.
Trying to contain the disease, officials have asked more than 50,000 residents in 10 small towns to stay at home and closed schools, bars and other public spaces.
All public events, including the weekend’s Carnival celebrations as well as church services and sporting events, have been banned for up to a week.
Health authorities confirmed two of the new cases were in the northern region of Veneto, where Padua is located, and 15 in neighboring Lombardy, including five doctors.
None of the people had visited China, but the 15 in Lombardy had frequented the same bar and had the same group of friends, AFP reported.
They are the first known cases of local transmission in the country, according to Reuters.
The first infected patient in Lombardy, a 38-year-old man who works at Unilever in the town of Lodi, fell ill after meeting a friend who had visited China, Reuters reported. The friend has since tested negative for the disease, but doctors were investigating whether he carried the virus and subsequently recovered without showing any symptoms.
The pregnant wife of the initial patient and one of his friends were also infected, along with three others admitted to the hospital overnight, suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms.
Some 250 people were being placed in isolation after coming into contact with the new cases, AFP reported, and 60 workers at Unilever have been tested for the virus.
Regional governor Luca Zaia said it was unclear how the two individuals in Veneto might have caught the disease. “There was certainly no contact with the people infected in Lodi,” he said.
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