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COVID-19 cases rise in Italy, with children among new cases

COVID-19 cases rise in Italy, with children among new cases

FILE PHOTO: A street vendor sells face masks outside the central railway station, after a coronavirus outbreak, in Milan, Italy February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

ROME: Italy saw a fresh jump in the number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (Feb 26), with 12 dead and 374 infections.

The new toll published by the country's civil protection department is a jump from the 322 cases and 10 deaths recorded on Tuesday evening.

All of those who have died so far were either elderly or had pre-existing medical conditions.

Earlier on Wednesday, Italy confirmed more than 30 new cases in the two worst-hit regions Lombardy and Veneto, with children found to have the illness for the first time.

Officials in Lombardy, which includes Italy's financial capital Milan, said cases had risen overnight to 259 from 240 on Tuesday, with four children, including a 4-year-old girl, infected in the first such cases in the country.

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In neighbouring Veneto, the number of people confirmed to have caught the flu-like virus was 58, an increase of 13 on the previous tally given on Tuesday.

The death toll from the contagion, which came to light on Friday, has risen to 12. All those who have died so far have been elderly and most had underlying health problems.

After first emerging in Italy in Lombardy and Veneto, the country's economic powerhouse, the illness has now spread to seven other regions, including Sicily in the far south.

READ: Italy COVID-19 outbreak spreads south as cases spike

Italians or people who had recently visited the north of the country have tested positive in Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and France since the weekend, showing how far and fast the illness - which was first identified in China last month - could spread.

In bid to halt the outbreak, authorities have shut schools, universities, museums, cinemas and theatres across much of the north. Many countries have advised their nationals not to visit the north of Italy and hoteliers have reported a wave of cancellations, putting the local tourism industry at threat.

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"We should stay calm, there is no reason to be particularly afraid," said Elisabetta Jacona, a Milan resident and doctor.

"The only advice I can give, as a doctor, is telling people who are more at risk, elderly people or people with previous pathologies ... to avoid going out."

Analysts have warned that the outbreak could shunt Italy's fragile economy into its fourth recession in 12 years.

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Source: Reuters/aa


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