Army to secure coronavirus 'red zone' in southern Italy after residents try to escape

A worker carries out sanitation operations at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, June 12, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ROME (AFP) - The army was being sent in to secure a virus "red zone" north of Naples with almost 50 cases of coronavirus on Thursday (June 25), after frustrated residents attempted to escape, Italian media reported.

Some 700 people have been ordered to remain indoors in four council housing blocks in Mondragone - 60km north of Naples on the coast in the Campania region - since Monday, while local health authorities test them for the virus, Rai news said.

A group ducked under the police tape cordoning off the complex on Thursday and had to be marched back in by police.

The region's head Vincenzo De Luca called for back up from the army, which he said was on its way.

Most of the residents are Bulgarians who work in agriculture.

New cases, including those who are asymptomatic, are being transferred to a local hospital.

But several of the 49 people who have tested positive so far have since gone missing.

Some were undocumented workers who feared losing their jobs, said Rai.

It was not the only cluster of new cases in Italy, which lifted its lockdown at the start of June after three months of a pandemic which has officially killed over 34,600 people.

Another set has emerged at a warehouse in Bologna used by express courier Bartolini, a local newspaper said on Thursday.

The company uncovered 44 asymptomatic cases - including two drivers - after testing all workers at the warehouse in central-northern Italy following the discovery of two members of staff with the virus, the Resto del Carlino daily said.

Bartolini (BRT) has closed the warehouse although deliveries continue.

It was expected to test all staff who have come into contact with those with the virus, the daily said.

Ten scientists in Italy on Wednesday released a joint statement declaring the coronavirus emergency to be "over".

That sparked a heated reaction from colleagues who warned a second wave was likely if people let down their guard.

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