Italy today announced its fourth death from coronavirus as the country imposes drastic security measures to contain the first major outbreak in Europe.
The 84-year-old man was confirmed dead today in Lombardy in northern Italy, where 50,000 people have been placed under lockdown, schools have been shut and bars and restaurants have been ordered to close.
The fourth virus victim died in Bergamo after he was taken to hospital with an unrelated illness but was later found to have the coronavirus, Italian media said.
The country has confirmed more than 160 cases of the virus, by far the largest number outside Asia.
The wealthy Lombardy region which includes Milan is the worst-affected region, while 22 people have been infected in neighbouring Veneto which includes Venice.
As the panic spread last night, Austria halted trains from crossing the Alps into Italy after two German women reported a fever on board, although they later tested negative.
Authorities in Lombardy and Veneto have banned public events including Masses, while Milan’s famous cathedral has been closed to visitors.
The spread of the virus has also forced the stoppage of high-profile events including the Venice Carnival, Milan Fashion Week and Serie A football fixtures.