Democratic Party leader Nicola Zingarelli, one of the most powerful politicians in Italy, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Italian media reported on Saturday.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Italy has been the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe; on Friday, the total number of confirmed cases in the country climbed above 4,500, with 197 deaths confirmed.
“I have coronavirus too,” Zingaretti said in a video posted on Facebook, adding he was in self-isolation at home and that all the people he had been in contact with in the latest days were being contacted for checks. He said he was well.
As the outbreak has spread to nearly every country in North America, Asia and Europe. On Friday, Slovakia, the last remaining nation in Europe without any confirmed cases of the virus, confirmed its first case and almost immediately implemented a ban on flights from Italy, which has been blamed for spreading the virus across the continent, per NYT.
Since the number of new cases being confirmed outside China surpassed the number of new cases being confirmed inside China early last week, South Korea, Italy, Iran and now the US have emerged as the new epicenters, though Europe’s largest economies are all struggling with largely uncontained outbreaks.
Across Europe, bureaucrats have been hesitant to suspend Schengen area free-travel, allowing the virus to effortlessly spread across the continent.
🔘#COVID2019 Daily new confirmed cases in the 8 countries with the most confirmed cases
— Jo Di 🏳️🌈 (@jodigraphics15) March 7, 2020
Italy has been the European country hardest hit by the epidemic, with a total of 4,636 cases and 197 deaths on Friday, and is currently reporting more deaths per day form the virus than any other country in the world.
The coronavirus death toll in the United States reached 17 when Florida health officials reported two fatalities, the first in the state, late Friday, the Washington Post reports. They were the first deaths recorded outside the West Coast, where Washington State and California have emerged as the hardest hit states.
In Iran, officials reported 1,076 new cases of coronavirus and 21 new deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 5,823 cases and 145 deaths. And a newly elected Iranina MP has died after two dozen Iranian lawmakers were infected, as well as several senior government officials.
In the Balkans, Bulgaria has closed all schools due to “influenza panic” – even though it’s only reported a handful of suspected cases.
Across the US, there are more than 300 cases reported (though not yet ‘confirmed’ by the CDC) and at least half of all states have confirmed cases. On Friday, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and South Carolina all confirmed their first cases of the virus.