The Slatest

Italy Cancels Venice Carnival as Coronavirus Cases Soar

People wearing surgical masks push a shopping cart in the Lidl parking lot.
People were given 10 minutes to shop in groups of 20 at a Lidl supermarket in Casalpusterlengo, southeast* of Milan, on Sunday. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

The last two days of the Venice Carnival have been canceled amid concern about a growing number of coronavirus cases in Italy. Milan’s Fashion Week will also have limited access as authorities canceled lots of public events in several cities in order to try to contain the spread of the new virus. The number of confirmed cases in Italy soared to 152, making it the largest focus of infections outside Asia. Three people have died. Officials in Italy are concerned because they haven’t been able to track down the source of the virus that appears to be spreading quickly in the north of the country.

“I was surprised by this explosion of cases,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told state broadcaster RAI. “We will do everything we can to contain the contagion.”

South Korea, meanwhile, said it was raising its national threat level to “red alert,” the highest possible, after 169 new cases were confirmed Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 602, including six deaths. More than half of those found to have been infected in South Korea were members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is often described as a cult by its critics. The South Korean government temporarily shut down Shincheonji’s 1,100 churches to try to prevent the virus from spreading further.

There is also increased concern in the Middle East as Iran confirmed 43 cases and eight deaths in the country, prompting Afghanistan, Armenia, Pakistan, and Turkey to close their borders with Iran. Experts say that, considering the death rate of the COVID-19 virus, which seems to kill about one in 50 people who are infected, Iran likely has far more cases than it is reporting.

China, meanwhile, reported 648 new infections, but only 18 of those were outside Hubei province.

Correction, Feb. 24, 2020: Due to a photo provider error, the caption originally misstated that Casalpusterlengo is in southwest Milan. It is southeast of Milan.