Italy Has Its First Local Transmission of COVID-19 as 3 People Test Positive
Three individuals have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy, officials from the Northern Lombardy region said on Friday, raising the total number of cases in the country to six. The individuals had not traveled to China, marking the first instance of local transmission in Italy.
The Italian Health Ministry has ordered anyone who has been in direct contact with these individuals to be quarantined for two weeks. All residents living in Codogno and Castiglione d’Adda—the two Lombardy towns where the patients are from—have been told to stay home.
“We have introduced a compulsory quarantine for all those who have been in contact with the patients who tested positive,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters.
One of the individuals, a 38-year-old man, is believed to have become infected after meeting regularly with someone who had recently been to China, the Lombardy Chief Giulio Gallera confirmed. His wife subsequently tested positive as did someone who came into contact with the man while engaging in recreational activities.
All three patients are being treated at Rome’s infectious disease hospital alongside the other three people infected in the country, which includes a Chinese couple from Wuhan and an Italian citizen who was recently repatriated from Wuhan.
China has had over 75,400 cases and 2,236 people have died. In Italy, Sinophobia has been prevalent since the outbreak of the virus, according to rights groups. The Bologna Today reported that a 15 year-old Chinese Italian boy was attacked by perpetrators who said “you’re bringing us disease.”
Emanuele Russo, the president of Amnesty Italy, told Al Jazeera that “fear of the virus’ spread has simply shed light on the Sinophobia that was already present.” He added, “we need the government to take a formal anti-xenophobia stance and criminalise acts that violate human rights.”