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Italy battles historic virus outbreak

Theaters close, residents are effectively quarantined in some parts and Giorgio Armani live streamed his fashion week show behind closed doors.
Credit: AP
Personnel carry new beds inside the hospital of Codogno, near Lodi in Northern Italy, Friday, Feb. 21,2020. (AP)

Italy is facing the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe. A dozen towns in northern Italy have gone on effective lockdown after the deaths of two people infected with the new virus from China. Saturday the mayor of Milan closed public offices, but Milan Fashion Week went on as scheduled. 

As Reuters reported, Italian officials ordered schools, museums and theaters closed for at least a week in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto. 

Luca Zaia, the regional governor of Veneto said, “as of this evening, there will be a ban on the Venice Carnival as well as on all events, including sporting ones, until March 1 inclusive.”

Officials in Italy were still working Sunday to track down patient zero, the first to carry the coronavirus into Italy. Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency said in a news conference Sunday, "We still cannot identify patient zero, so it's difficult to forecast possible new cases," CNN reported.  

In a last-minute change, Giorgio Armani decided to hold his Milan Fashion Week runway show behind closed doors Sunday due to concerns raised by the coronavirus. 

Instead, he planned to stream the event from inside the empty showroom. The fashion house said in a statement that ''the decision was taken to safeguard the well-being of all his invited guests by not having them attend crowded spaces.'' 

According to Reuters, coronavirus cases shot up in Lombardy region from 54 to 90 in a day. Cases of the virus in Veneto were at 25 at one point over the weekend. Isolated cases were reported in neighboring regions of Italy. 

Luca Zaia, regional governor of Veneto said, "this is the absolutely worst problem that Veneto has faced." Nearly a dozen towns in Lombardy and Veneto regions have effectively put their nearly 50,000 residents under quarantine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.