Italian tourism officials fear a new virus could do more damage to the industry than the Sept. 11 terror attacks as the number of confirmed cases in the country shot up past the 1,000 mark and deaths climbed to 29.
Authorities reported that Italy’s total confirmed cases grew to 1,128, a 27 per cent increase from 24 hours earlier. The vast majority are in three northern regions, all economically productive and among the most visited in the country : Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
Eight more people infected with the coronavirus died since Friday night, all of them elderly and all in the same three regions, according to civil protection authorities.
The increase comes despite strong measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus — including isolating 11 towns with a combined population of over 50,000. Health officials cautioned that the impact of the measures adopted a week ago would not result in slowing case numbers until some 14 days — the period of incubation — had elapsed.
`’The cases we are verifying are likely to have been contracted before we adopted these measures,” said Silvio Brusaferro, president of the national health institute.
Still, the steadily rising numbers were likely to bring more pressure on Italy’s tourism industry, a chief economic motor in a country famed for its world-class museums, archaeological sites, art cities and natural beauty.
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