Coronavirus unleashes panic across northern Italy.

Above: an illustration released today at noon (Italian time) by the Italian health ministry — 213 cases reported, 99 persons being treated at a hospital, 23 cases in need of intensive care, 91 persons in home isolation.

According to a report published this morning by the Italian national daily La Repubblica, a sixth person has died in Italy’s novel coronavirus outbreak.

The latest victim, report the editors, was a man in his 80s in Milan. All of those who have died from the virus have been more than 80 years old, they write.

You can see a map of areas where contagion has been reported here.

City streets are deserted and grocery store shelves emptied across northern Italy, where panic has gripped citizens in Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino, and Veneto. In the southern Italian region of Puglia, officials are asking returning residents who work in the north to report their status upon their arrival there.

Italy’s emergency telephone number, 112 (similar to 911 in the U.S.), has been overwhelmed by callers who are seeking information about the outbreak.

At least 10 towns in Lombardy, where the outbreak is concentrated, are on lockdown, according to the most recent report by the New York Times.

Museums, schools, and churches are closed and all public gatherings have been postponed through Sunday, March 1.

Anecdotally, I’m hearing that lines at supermarkets are long and vital products are scarce. Nearly everyone who dares to go out wears a surgical mask (despite the fact that it doesn’t reduce your risk of being infected).

So far, I haven’t heard of any impact on the wine trade. But with industry fairs around the corner (Prowein next month and Vinitaly in April), some are concerned that the outbreak will impede attendance.

Italy’s winemakers dodged a bullet on February 14 when the U.S. government announced it wouldn’t be expanding wine tariffs to include Italian products. But many fear that the recent and rapidly evolving health crisis will ultimately have a negative effect on domestic sales. Today’s steep drop in global financial markets will certainly be viewed as an indicator of consumer confidence.

I’ll keep posting updates as more information becomes available.

5 thoughts on “Coronavirus unleashes panic across northern Italy.

  1. This is becoming more than urgent; there is a great piece in the NY Times today (op-ed) by a medical expert outlining the likely worldwide effects of this virus. Wine, and all other goods, will take a hit. Good roundup here of the scene in Italy, Jeremy.

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    You didn’t ask for my two cents, but here is something I sent to a client this morning.

    I know it’s all over the news, but my feeling is that while it is serious, the news makes it seem like the end of the world. If you consider that in this country 14,000+ people have died of the regular flu so far this year and 1/4 million have been hospitalized and only 40% of people get the flu shot and that 2500 school age kids were killed by gun violence and there is little news about that, so it kind of puts things in perspective. Everyone is being very cautious, and it’s good to see that we can mobilize and react to contain something. We can and we do. It affects things in the meantime, for sure, but at least we can stem the tide. They managed with ebola and Sars, so I imagine we’ll get beyond this, too.

    I am no authority on any of this, but the media is 24/7 and ratings depend on them filling the air. Again, I’m not suggesting that it’s not serious, but I think we have to think about these facts and put everything in perspective. Is this truly Armageddon?

    I have had Loredana Vivera from Etna staying with me this week as she often does when she has marketing in NYC. She’ll be at Prowein and VinItaly. (You should stop by. Her wines are wonderful!) If they cancel those fairs, that’s a big deal. If shipments are disrupted, that’s a big deal, too. My first emails of the day were from clients asking if they should cancel their trips to Sicily this June. I am trying to be hopeful. The ripple effect of fear is huge.

    On FB today, I posted about how wine is so important in the Jewish tradition that it gets its own blessing – then I spoke about the one-time large Jewish population in Mazara del Vallo.

    I didn’t say this in the post, but I find it interesting that in bad times we can come together as humans and sometimes share each other’s pain. In good times we can celebrate with each other. The rest of the time everyone forgets that we are all just humans and division takes over.

    Yes, we live in interesting times.

    Hope all is well by you. Karen


    • Karen I totally agree. Everyone in Italy, well thankfully not everyone, but too many people are acting like this is the plague when in fact you’re more likely to get the common flu and elderly and infirm folks are those truly at risk, as with the common flu. As always I’m just trying to open a window to what I’m reading in the Italian media and hearing from people on the ground. I’ve been surprised at how the American media doesn’t seem to have the most recent updates. Thanks for being here. Your voice is always welcome.

  3. Pingback: Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: Price & Quality

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