Belgian travellers urged to be cautious as coronavirus death toll mounts in Italy

Belgian travellers urged to be cautious as coronavirus death toll mounts in Italy
The Carnival of Venice was cancelled as Italian officials rushed to contain the biggest Covid-19 outbreak outside of Asia. © Belga

Belgians travelling to Italy were advised to heed recommendations from local authorities as officials grapple with a surge in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

"Due to the current situation in northern Italy and to sanitary risks linked to the [Covid-19], the foreign affairs ministry updated its recommendations to travellers," health officials said in an online statement.

In the first major outbreak in continental Europe, Italy has reported at least 160 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, Covid-19, in a fast-paced string of infections over the weekend, which began with three confirmed cases on Friday.

As the outbreak in Italy accelerated, the Belgian government updated its recommendations to Belgians travelling to several Italian destinations.

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The foreign affairs ministry said that travellers going to either of the 11 destinations should heed the recommendations of local authorities and follow updates on the Italian health ministry's website.

The sudden surge in confirmed Covid-19 cases led Italian officials to pull the plug on the Carnival of Venice, one of Italy's main touristic attractions, and roll out containment measures in dozens of locations.

The death on Monday of an elderly man who was already hospitalised when he contracted the virus pushed the country's death toll to four.

The sudden outbreak has seen Italian authorities scramble to identify the source of the wave of infections, which mark the largest concentration of confirmed cases outside of Asia to date.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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