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Coronavirus explodes in Italy. Europe threatened. Markets spooked

Police officers stopped cars on the road outside Casalpusterlengo, Italy, one of the towns under quarantine, on Sunday.Credit...Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

PortandTerminal.com, February 24, 2020

An outbreak this extensive and virulent is likely to impact all of Western Europe very quickly, if not with the disease itself, then with precautions taken to try to stop it.

ROME, ITALY – A sudden outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID19, in Italy forced authorities there to lockdown several towns. Confirmed cases of the virus surged today to 230 with 5 deaths. At least 26 coronavirus patients are in intensive care, officials said.

Italy has more confirmed cases of coronavirus now than many countries in Asia. Source: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/ (February 24, 2020)

Nearly all of Italy’s cases are clustered in the north, including in the northeast Veneto region, which includes Venice. Italian authorities announced they were shutting down carnival event in Venice to try and contain the spread of the virus.

A couple of elderly people wearing respiratory masks push a trolley loaded with foodstuffs after having been given a 10-minutes access to shop in a LIDL supermarket in groups of twenty people on February 23, 2020 in south-west Milan, Italy.
 PHOTO BY EMANUELE CREMASCHI/GETTY IMAGES)

The dozens of newly confirmed cases have also caused all schools and universities to be closed not only in Milan, but in the entire region of Lombardy, for an indefinite period of time as movie theaters, concerts and public gatherings have also been banned. LIDL, a supermarket chain, was limiting customers in its stores in Milan to groups of 20 and giving them just 10 minutes to do their shopping.

In Rome, nervous taxi drivers outside Fiumicino Airport were hesitant to pick up Asian passengers and a Chinese woman in Turin reported being assaulted for simply being Chinese.

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party in Italy wants to close the frontier, though countries that border Italy are likely thinking the same thing from their side. An outbreak this extensive and virulent is likely to impact all of Western Europe very quickly, if not with the disease itself, then with precautions taken to try to stop it.

The news that the virus has spread so dramatically beyond Asia sent the DOW tumbling by 800 points in early morning trading today. The White House is reported to be set to ask Congress for emergency funding to combat the virus.

The dramatic spread of coronavirus to Italy is a game-changer. Up until now, from a European/North American viewpoint, the virus has been an Asian problem.

An outbreak this extensive and virulent is likely to impact all of Western Europe very quickly, if not with the disease itself, then with precautions taken to try to stop it.

That’s all changed. Italy has more confirmed cases of the virus than Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong – countries that have thus far been seen as most at risk of the virus spreading.

Four days ago, Maersk CEO Soren Skou warned that the world’s biggest ocean carrier is experiencing significant disruption at Chinese seaports due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We are experiencing huge pressure at [Chinese] terminals because there aren’t enough workers at the ports to move the containers around, not enough truck drivers to move the goods, and no one to receive them at the factories or warehouses,” Skou said. 

With today’s news from Italy, European ports and logistics providers are now on notice that they may be next.

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