Italy has confirmed 16 cases of the virus which originated in China. All public meetings, including church services, sports matches and carnivals, have been banned in the ten towns.
Authorities have also requested that 50,000 people remain at home.
Of the cases 14 are in Lombardy and two in Veneto.
Doctors are working to discover whether a further two patients in Veneto also have the virus.
None of the 16 had recently visited China, raising concerns about the speed of the disease’s spread.
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Italy has confirmed 16 cases of the virus (Image: GETTY)
Tourists in Italy wearing protective masks (Image: GETTY)
One man who tested negative for the virus recently met a friend who returned from China, and authorities are investigating whether he could have passed the contagion on without catching it himself.
Those who caught the virus included his wife and one of his friends.
Italian health minister Roberto Speranza commented: “We had prepared a plan in recent days, because it was clear what has happened could somehow happen.”
Separately South Korea has declared an ‘emergency’ as 100 new cases have been confirmed in the country.
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The coronavirus outbreak began in China (Image: GETTY)