People wear masks when they are in front of the San Biagio church in Codogno near Lodi, northern Italy, on Saturday, February 22, 2020. A dozen cities in northern Italy are effectively blocked after the new Chinese-related virus has claimed the first death in Italy and made an increasing number of people ill, with secondary infections by the local authorities in the cities of Lombardy and Italy Veneto ordered schools, shops and restaurants closed and sporting events and fairs canceled (AP Photo / Luca Bruno)
ROME – Three Serie A soccer games scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the death of two people from China infected with the virus.
Following orders from the Italian government, the following games were canceled: Inter Milan against Sampdoria, Atalanta against Sassuolo and Hellas Verona against Cagliari.
Three further games in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are scheduled to take place.
A dozen cities in northern Italy were effectively banned on Saturday after the death of two people infected with the Chinese Corona virus and an increasing number of cases unrelated to the origin of the outbreak abroad.
"The government is working on urgent measures to decisively combat and contain the cases of coronavirus infection," said a letter from Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora to the President of the Italian Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malago, shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “These measures also include the world of sports in order to prevent risks and to better protect the health of those involved in events and competitions.
"After measures taken by the cabinet for protection reasons and with the greatest caution, I ask you, on the orders of the government, to suspend all sporting events of all levels and disciplines planned for the regions of Lombardy and Veneto on Sunday."
Already on Saturday the game Ascoli-Cremonese in series B and Piacenza-Sambenedettese in series C was postponed. Four Serie C games scheduled for Sunday have also been postponed.
On Thursday, Inter will also host Ludogrets in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32.
"It is clear that sporting events are one of the most difficult events," said Spadafora in Rome at the Six Nations rugby game between Italy and Scotland in Saturday, which had 55,000 fans.
Malago added: "The authorities have the responsibility, the right and the duty to take initiatives and precautions. When a mayor, the president of a region or a minister issues a decree, the sports world has to obey. There is no doubt about it. "
Sports events across China and Asia have also been suspended, fearing that the Tokyo Olympics, which opened in five months, could also be affected.
The secondary contagions caused the local authorities in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto to close schools, shops and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and trade fairs.
The Mayor of Milan, Italy's business and regional capital of Lombardy, has closed public offices.
A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. Post-mortem with a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy was positive, although it was not clear whether an illness caused by the virus caused her death.
Hundreds of residents and workers who came in contact with 54 people who tested positive for the virus in Italy were isolated until the results of their tests. Civil protection teams set up a camp in front of a closed hospital in Veneto to examine medical personnel for the virus.
In the city of Codogno, where the first patient identified in the northern cluster was in critical condition, closed supermarkets, restaurants and shops made the main street practically a ghost town. The few people wore face masks, which were coveted items after being sold out in pharmacies.
Government agencies in Lombardy said the region had 39 confirmed cases, all of which were somehow due to the first involving a man who had not traveled to China. Ten cities in Lombardy were ordered to stop non-essential activities and services.
Twelve people with the virus were reported in the Veneto region, including the 78-year-old man who died late Friday. Two of the confirmed infections in the region were relatives of the deceased man, said Venetian regional president Luca Zaia.
More information on the new type of corona virus can be found here.
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