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Italy sets checkpoints around quarantined towns to stop Wuhan coronavirus

Christian Fernsby |
Police manned checkpoints around quarantined towns in Italy’s north tday as authorities sought to contain cases Wuhan coronavirus that have made Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe and fears of its cross border spread.

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Italians travelling abroad were already feeling the effects of a crackdown, with a bus from Milan barricaded by police in the French city of Lyon for health checks and an arriving Alitalia plane blocked on the tarmac in the African island nation of Mauritius.

Civil protection officials said 219 people had tested positive for the virus in Italy and five people had died, including two elderly men in northern Lombardy.

But officials still haven’t pinpointed the origin of the contagion, which by Monday had spread to more than a half-dozen regions and prompted Austria to temporarily halt rail traffic across its border with Italy.

“These rapid developments over the weekend have shown how quickly this situation can change,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in Brussels. “We need to take this situation of course very seriously, but we must not give in to panic, and, even more importantly, to disinformation.”

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