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COVID-19 battle in Europe: Schools closed in Italy, more eve

Source:未知 2020-03-09 11:25


Italy has ordered all schools and universities closed until March 15, stepping up its efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic from spreading, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti and Minister of Education Lucia Azzolina announced in a joint televised press conference on Wednesday night.

The death toll has reached 107 with over 2,700 infections from the COVID-19 since the viral outbreak began in the Mediterranean country.

The measure is the most restrictive response to the novel coronavirus of any European nation and tougher than the closure of schools – but not universities – taken by fellow Group of Seven (G7) member Japan.

'Firmer response needed' for Italy

The country's other new measures include an unpopular month-long nationwide ban on fan attendance at football matches and other major sporting events, as well as advice to avoid traditional greetings such as kissing on the cheek or shaking hands.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti told the nation that Italy could tackle the epidemic but needed a firmer response to keep things from spiraling out of control.

"As long as the numbers are low, the health system can assist (people) effectively," Conti said in a video message posted on Facebook regarding the new restrictions.


"But in case of exponential growth, not just Italy but any other country in the world would not be able to manage the situation," he added.

It is also announced that public guided tours of Palazzo Chigi would be suspended from March 4 until further notice.

In addition, exhibits and shows are set to be rescheduled – a move that is widely considered to be especially painful for the country's already hard-hit tourism, hotel and restaurant industries.

The Venice Architecture Biennale has been rescheduled with its opening delayed by three months due to the coronavirus, the organizer announced Wednesday on the event's official website, saying that it will be held from August 29 through November 29.

This year's biannual event, which was set to be launched on May 23, has now been shortened to just three months instead of the usual six.

London Book Fair and more events in Europe canceled

As the COVID-19 continues its march across Europe, numerous countries are scrambling to tighten prevention efforts in a bid to stem the spread of the virus on the continent.

More cultural events are getting axed or suspended to avoid mass gatherings due to safety concerns.

The London Book Fair, one of the largest book-publishing trade fairs in the world and biggest events in the literary calendar, has also been called off, organizers Reed Exhibitions said on Wednesday.

The event, which was due to take place from March 10 to 12, was expected to attract 25,000 attendees from over 100 countries.

As of Wednesday, Britain had confirmed 85 cases but no deaths. The government has not ordered the cancellation of any events, but said it may be required to take such action if the epidemic continues to mount across the nation.

Other countries have also begun to cancel events like football matches, carnivals, concerts and commercial gatherings, such as the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, which was set to run from March 5 to 15 in Switzerland.

'Public health measures' carried out across France

In France, where the virus has infected 257 people and killed four, MIPTV, one of the world's biggest television and entertainment conferences and trading markets held annually in Cannes, has also been canceled, while Canneseries, an international series festival that runs in parallel, will be delayed until October over public health concerns.

Noting that many of clients are concerned about traveling in the current context, Paul Zilk, the head of Reed MIDEM, which runs MIPTV as well as the still larger MIPCOM market in Cannes in October, said that "Rescheduling MIPTV in the coming months is not feasible so the most appropriate course of action is to cancel."


The Cannes Film Festival, annually held in May, has yet to announce any potential postponements or cancellations.

The organizers said earlier this week they were monitoring the situation and consulting with the French authorities to see if there are further developments to ensure safety.

The Paris Opera, based in the capital city, said on its website that "public health measures" have been put in place at its two theaters – Opera Bastille and the Palais Garnier – to limit the spread of the epidemic.

The iconic opera also urged would-be visitors with flu-like symptoms "to postpone their visit to the Paris Opera or at the very least wear a surgical mask."

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