ROME • Two Italians became the first Europeans to die after being infected with the coronavirus, as local towns were locked down following a flurry of new cases.
The first death was that of a 78-year-old retired bricklayer from the Veneto region, Mr Adriano Trevisan, who tested positive and died on Friday in hospital, where he was admitted 10 days earlier for an unrelated health issue, Italy's health minister said.
The second was a 75-year-old woman, a resident in the Lombardy region, Italian news agency Ansa reported. No further details of her were immediately available.
Italy has reported at least 50 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Mr Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region, said on Friday that "a sanitary ring" would be created around Vo' Euganeo - a village near Padua where Mr Trevisan lived - and all 3,300 inhabitants would be tested.
Veneto has reported 12 cases, while nearby Lombardy has 39.
In Rome, three people are being treated in isolation for the virus.
The first case in Italy that officials traced the outbreak to is a 38-year-old man from Codogno who is thought to have caught the illness from a friend who returned from China last month, Italian media reported.
The Italian authorities have asked more than 50,000 people to stay at home in the areas concerned.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE