The Italian government declared a state of emergency Friday and closed all air traffic to and from China. The move came after confirmation that two Chinese tourists tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple are being treated in isolation in a Rome hospital specializing in infectious diseases.
A special cabinet meeting held by the Italian government Friday declared a six-month state of emergency and allocated $5.5 million to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Further meetings were planned between the country's health authorities and the civil defense department to decide what additional measures were needed.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed Thursday that a Chinese couple from Wuhan that had been staying in Rome's Palatino hotel, near the Colosseum, had been admitted to Rome's Spallanzani Hospital after showing symptoms of coronavirus.
The prime minister said there is no reason to panic, adding that all measures have been adopted to try to prevent the spread of the disease.
The director of the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Professor Giuseppe Ippolito, said the Chinese couple were placed in isolation and are "in reasonable condition."
Health minister Roberto Speranza said the state of emergency status gives the government more powers to deal to deal with the infection, but does not change life for Italians.
Speranza also said efforts are being made to retrace the places the Chinese couple visited since arriving in Milan on January 23. The other 18 tourists and the driver who traveled with them on a bus also are being tested and remain under observation.
At the hotel where the couple were staying, their room was immediately sealed off and decontamination was carried out. The hotel has had cancellations, even though the director declared there is no danger for the staff or guests.
Additionally, the Italian government is organizing a special plane to bring back some 80 Italians in Wuhan. It is likely they will be flown back Monday, then will spend two weeks in quarantine.