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.
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.