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Northern Italy Grapples With Rapidly Expanding Coronavirus Outbreak

When Serena Santoro left with her family to the Italian Alps last Sunday, people were nervous in her hometown of Milan about coronavirus.

Within 24 hours, the situation deteriorated dramatically.

“The emergency just exploded. By the time we arrived in the mountains last Sunday, there was a complete escalation on social media and TV. Coronavirus is all they are talking about, 24 hours a day. The government is constantly having press briefings, and it is making the public panic,” said Santoro.

According to a Feb. 29 news conference in Rome, the total number of infections is now 1,128, with 29 possible virus-linked deaths. This was a jump from only 17 cases on Feb. 21. The biggest pocket of infections is in Italy’s Lombardy region in the north, where 11 towns were put under quarantine near Milan — putting 50,000 people under lockdown.

What has been confusing to the public is that scientists are being interviewed on TV — oftentimes saying different things. City governments have also been unclear, at times, seeming to make contradictory statements.

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