Fear, isolation cloaks town at centre of Italy's coronavirus outbreak

Fear, isolation cloaks town at centre of Italy's coronavirus outbreak

Codogno in the Lombardy region was labelled by health officials on Saturday as the epicentre of the new wave of confirmed cases in Italy's north.
Codogno in the Lombardy region was labelled by health officials on Saturday as the epicentre of the new wave of confirmed cases in Italy's north.

CODOGNO, Italy: The streets are silent, shops are shuttered and the few people who venture from their homes shun company in the small Italian town of Codogno under the shadow of a new coronavirus outbreak.

"It's a ghost town, it's horrible for us," a young woman named Paola told AFP as she walked down a deserted street near the station on Saturday night.

"People are locked in their houses, there's nobody in the streets," she added.

The station, like most parts of the town of 15,000 people, was closed. No one was selling tickets, no passengers awaited trains.

Italy became the first European country to report the death of one of its own nationals from the virus on Friday, followed by a second death on Saturday, amid a sudden rise in confirmed cases of contamination now totalling 79.

Codogno in the Lombardy region was labelled by health officials on Saturday as the epicentre of the new wave of cases in Italy's north.

Italian authorities have imposed travel restrictions on about a dozen towns, where special permission will be needed to enter or leave.

The virus which broke out in China in December where more than 2,200 people have died has now spread to more than 25 countries.

In Codogno's centre, the pharmacy remained open on the orders of the local authorities.

"We're all scared, but we keep our fingers crossed," the pharmacy's owner Rosa Cavalli told AFP.

She said protective masks had long sold out but customers were stocking up on disinfectants, alcohol and bleach.

"Most of (the masks) came from China and they've kept them, they need them, they're in trouble," she added.

One woman ventured out to buy drinks and snacks from one of the few vending machines in the town.

"We're trying to stay calm because in these situations it's easy to panic," said Erica, who only gave her first name, adding that she was buying food because it wasn't clear whether supermarkets would remain open.

"I'm a little scared because we can all be infected. I work in a restaurant and have a lot of contact with people," she added.


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