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Italy's Virus Affliction Grim News for Europe

2020-03-18

Italy's Virus Affliction Grim News for Europe


Northern Italy is the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Europe.

The last two days of the Venice Carnival, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, have been cancelled. And the area south of Milan, where Italy's first COVID-19 cases were reported, is under quarantine.


And on Monday night Italy announced to expand a travel ban to the entire country.


Epidemics are not new in northern Italy, which was at the center of trade routes throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.


In fact, Venice was the first city to develop methods to contain and treat virulently contagious diseases.


Back then, the authorities isolated people with symptoms in lazarets (ships permanently at anchor and used for quarantine) on islands outside the city, and restricted the movements and interactions of healthy Venetians during a 40-day quarantine period.


Northern Italy is the country's economic engine with per capita GDP of about €35,000 ($38,000) - compared with the national figure of €28,000 - and a 67 percent employment rate (against 59 percent nationwide), yet major trade events such as the Milan Furniture Fair have been canceled or postponed and business trips scrapped, with uncertainty being high.


Along with Germany's economic slowdown and the uncertainty of Brexit, Italy's virus affliction is further grim news for Europe.

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