Italy has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the south after a holiday maker from the north fell ill while visiting Sicily with friends.
The woman, from Bergamo, had been to Palermo before her home region of Lombardy was closed off after a weekend outbreak.
But in recent days she started to show flu-like symptoms and went to the hospital where the diagnosis was made. Guests at the Mercure hotel where she was staying with her husband and friends are now in quarantine.
Italy now has 229 confirmed cases of the virus and seven deaths, the largest total outside of Asia.
The news that the infection had spread caused panic in the Sicilian capital on Tuesday when shoppers exposed the supermarket shelves.
Meanwhile, Italian Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Laura Castelli warned that the country may need help in meeting its EU budget commitments, as its economy is on the verge of recession.
Shoppers stripped of shelves without food and other necessities in Palermo on Tuesday after the first case of the city’s coronavirus was confirmed after a visit from a sick woman from the north
The woman traveled from Bergamo, in the now quarantined region of Lombardy, before the lockdown was introduced before she fell ill in Palermo (photo, empty supermarket shelves)
Italy registered ten new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, but the news that the disease has spread to the south of the country comes as a blow to health officials trying to control it (photo, panic buying in Palermo)
Shoppers in the Sicilian capital plundered shelves for supplies amid fears that the region could be shut down to stop the spread of the corona virus after the first confirmed case of the city
A pharmacist sticks out a sign to inform customers that they are sold out in Palermo of protective masks and disinfectant gel
The woman stayed with her husband and friends at the Mercure hotel in the center of Palermo. The building is now in quarantine because guests are being tested for the virus
Even before it was hit by a coronavirus outbreak, the Italian economy registered a 0.3 percent contraction in the last quarter of 2019.
On Monday, the stock market fell by more than 5 percent when the FTSE MIB recorded its largest one-day dive since 2016.
Shares in banks, most of which are located in the financial capital of Milan, which is the heart of the outbreak, were among the hardest hit.
Juventus football club, which has seen games postponed with the rest of Serie A in the midst of the outbreak, had to suspend trading in its shares after falling 11 percent.
If the economy again suffers a loss in the first quarter of 2020, it means that the country is in a recession.
While Italy registered only ten new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the fact that the disease has spread to the south will be a major concern for health officials.
Until now, the outbreak was limited to the north, where about 55,000 people were locked up with villages cut off and residents isolated in an effort to stop the spread.
The woman, who was not identified, was taken to the hospital in Palermo shortly after she started show symptoms and later tested positive for the virus.
The case was announced on Tuesday, although it is not clear how long she was in town for that.
Her husband and friends have also been quarantined. It is not thought that she is in serious condition.
A 60-year-old man in Florence, central Italy, has also tested positive – although he is suspected of being infected in Singapore, a well-known hotbed of the virus.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has blamed the management of a hospital in northern Italy for an outbreak of the new corona virus.
Most of the cases in Italy have taken place in Lombardy and Veneto, in the north, and the region is now partially closed. A 60-year-old businessman fell ill in Florence after returning from Singapore, while a female tourist fell ill in Palermo
A cluster of 11 cities in Lombardy has been placed in a ‘red zone’, with closed roads and strict controls of all traffic in place
Anyone trying to enter the quarantine zone must have paperwork to be there. All other travelers are told to find another way
The police returns a truck driver trying to find his way in the quarantined red zone that covers parts of Lombardy, in northern Italy
Lombardy is split into two regions – red and yellow – with those in the red zone limited to their homes with no one allowed in or out, while those in the yellow zone have limited their movements
A man walks across the street in one of the restricted zones of Lombardy while health authorities try to control the spread of the corona virus
“At the moment we know that the way one hospital facility was managed was not entirely appropriate,” Conte told Italian TV Monday night.
“That certainly contributed to the spread,” he said, without mentioning the institution concerned.
The main center of infection was the city of Codogno, about 60 kilometers south of Milan.
Codogno and several other cities in northern Italy have been isolated in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading.
An officer at a roadblock who prevented cars from entering Somaglia, one of the closed cities, told Mail Online: “We have had no problems.
‘Everyone cooperates and nobody has tried to drive away.
“We’ll arrest anyone who’s trying to leave, but I don’t think people are so foolish, they know this is very serious and will just have to wait.”
Hundreds of police officers have set up roadblocks in the cities, with only medical personnel, police and drivers being allowed to let food and water in.
Driving on the deserted roads close to the city of Codogno – the epicenter of the outbreak – there is a creepy silence that is nervous.
A member of the cleaning staff is preparing to clean a train carriage at the Garibaldi station in Milan, which is at the center of the corona virus outbreak in northern Italy
Rehabilitation of all public transport is one of the emergency measures taken by the authorities in Milan, while Italy tries to stop the spread of the corona virus
Garibaldi station in Milan was abandoned after the region was partially closed in the midst of the rapid spread of the corona virus
Garibaldi, typically bustling with commuters, was almost deserted on Tuesday because people stayed at home amid fear of coronavirus
A pre-triage medical tent is set up for Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence, Italy, after a 60-year-old businessman in the city was tested for corona virus after returning from Singapore
Although most cases of coronavirus in Italy are limited to the north, the disease begins to spread to the south – amid the fear that it could quickly get out of hand
Roads that would be busy with cars are empty, while side streets that lead to rows of houses are deserted.
Shutters on most houses remain closed and in one hour Mail Online saw only one person walking outside.
The police wear masks and blue surgical gloves around the clock at the roadblocks.
What few cars have ventured are marked and must stop at the side of the road.
A police officer slowly comes closer, but ensures that he keeps a distance from the window of the car rolled down.
Only persons with paperwork with which they can enter quarantine may continue. All others are being turned back.
At one checkpoint, the driver of a German lorry car looked annoyed as he lifted his navigation system and sought help trying to find a way past roadblocks to cut off his delivery.
Despite pleas with the officers, he was turned around and walked back to the main A1 highway that runs between Milan and Bologna.
Italian authorities have divided the Lombardy region into two zones – red and yellow.
The cities where 50,000 people have been denied access are in the red zone, while others such as Lodi are considered ‘safe’ and fall into the yellow zone.
As a precaution, all bars and clubs in the entire yellow region are closed at 6 pm. No large gatherings are allowed in the coming fourteen days.
A tourist from Taiwan is wearing stickers on her back to indicate that she is not from China while visiting the Cathedral of Milan
A man in a face mask feeds pigeons in Milan while the country is hit by the corona virus outbreak
A pair of face masks is seen on the metro at the Duomo metro station in Milan
Women in a face mask are seen in the Porta Venezia metro in Milan, while the country is affected by the coronavirus outbreak
In the city of Guardamiglio, about five kilometers from Codogno, a bar in the city had ordered the paperwork to close after 6 p.m. stuck to the metal shutters.
Local resident Giancarlo Pulgia said: “It is something that we must accept. We are lucky that we are not in the cities that have been placed under quarantine. We can still continue our business, not someone working. “
Schools are closed and sports facilities are closed for the duration, while a government decision allows people in the red zone to work from home and stay paid.
The city of Codogno became the epicenter after a 38-year-old man fell ill from the virus and was taken to the hospital. It is believed that he has started spreading the virus that has led Italy to take third place after China and Singapore.
Within the affected cities, most residents stay inside and communicate via a WhatsApp group and e-mail.
A resident, a middle-aged woman, told local media: “We are all waiting for news. There is confusion about food supply.
“Some people go to other supermarkets in cities that are within the red zone. That is allowed.
“There are a number of terrible stories going around. We have heard that nurses cannot terminate their services. They risk burnout ‘.
Describing the city, she said: “The place is empty and everyone is locked up in their houses. There is an unusual silence and we talk from behind closed front doors to exchange information.
The Italian stock market, the Borsa Italiana, saw 5 percent of its value fade away on Monday – the largest drop of one day since 2016
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (center) takes part in the first meeting of the standing committee between ministers and governors of the Italian regions to deal with the coronavirus crisis
Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando talks to the media about the ongoing coronavirus emergency in the Sicilian capital
“We see ambulances coming and visiting the sick and checking if it is another case of coronavirus.
“The A&E department at the hospital is closed. Nobody is allowed in and nobody is allowed out. “
Journalist Costanza Cavalli, who entered the city before it was closed, described the boredom she endured while she could not leave.
She said she craved the noise of traffic and said that after four days she feels she’s serving a 30-year prison sentence.
Four days after the closure, the police did not have to make any arrests for residents trying to leave.
Despite the spread of the virus to the southernmost tip of Italy and new advice on self-isolating flights to and from the UK, they continued unchanged.
British Airways operated 18 flights a day to and from Milan while other airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair followed their normal schedule.