Tourists wear protective face masks at Venice Carnival, which the last two days of, as well as Sunday night's festivities, have…
FILE - Tourists wear protective face masks at Venice Carnival, which the last two days of, as well as Sunday night's festivities, have been cancelled because of an outbreak of coronavirus, in Venice, Italy, Feb. 23, 2020.

VENICE - More than 130 people have contracted the coronavirus in Italy, the majority in the north of the country. Italy, which has confirmed at least two coronavirus deaths, has the highest number of cases in Europe. With an emergency decree, the Italian government has adopted special powers to deal with the situation. Strict measures have been adopted in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Military police wearing surgical masks are guarding the nearly a dozen northern Italian towns that are on lockdown following an outbreak of coronavirus. The towns have a combined population of about 50,000. The police were deployed to ensure no one enters or leaves the towns that have been sealed and placed under quarantine.

A cyclist talks to police officers controlling movements to and from the cordoned area in Casalpusterlengo, Northern Italy, Feb. 23, 2020.

Most of Italy's coronavirus cases are in the wealthy industrial north of the country, in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto. To deal with this emergency, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte explained the government’s decisions.

He said an emergency decree was approved immediately that gives special powers to the government in order to be able to safeguard in the best possible way the health of Italians.

Very strict measures were adopted in the two most affected regions in Italy on Sunday including closure of schools, universities, cinemas and museums for at least one week. No public gatherings or church services will be permitted to take place and four Serie A soccer games were postponed.

Tourists are wearing protective masks against coronavirus in Venice, Italy, Feb. 23, 2020. (S. Castelfranco/VOA)

In Venice, checks were being carried out at the airport on all arriving passengers and leaflets handed out with an emergency number for the health ministry and a list of precautions to take. Authorities canceled all carnival events from Sunday.

The governor of the Veneto  region Luca Zaia confirmed two elderly people had contracted the virus in Venice and were hospitalized.

In Milan, Giorgio Armani was holding his womenswear fashion show behind closed doors as a precaution. Italian designer Laura Biagiotti canceled her show.

Italian health officials are struggling to figure out how the outbreak began. Very early on the Italian government took measures against the coronavirus including the suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights from China.

 

 

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