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Italy rushes to contain Europe's first major virus outbreak


February 24, 2020

Claudio Furlan – Associated Press

Police stops cars trying to enter or leave the cordoned area in Casalpusterlengo, Northern Italy, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. A dozen Italian towns saw daily life disrupted after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China and a pair of case clusters without direct links to the outbreak abroad. A rapid spike in infections prompted authorities in the northern Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

CODOGNO, Italy - Italy scrambled Sunday to check the spread of Europe's first major outbreak of the new viral disease amid rapidly rising numbers of infections and a third death, calling off the popular Venice Carnival, scrapping major league soccer matches in the stricken area and shuttering theaters, including Milan's legendary La Scala.

Concern was also on the rise in neighboring Austria, which halted all rail traffic to and from Italy for several hours after suspicion that a train at its southern border with Italy had two passengers possibly infected with the virus on board, authorities said. Austria's interior ministry said it had been informed by Italy's railway company that two passengers had fever and stopped the train at the Brenner crossing before it could enter Austria.


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