Virus woes shift from China to Italy as borders slam shut

BEIJING (AP) — Starkly illustrating the global east-to-west spread of the new coronavirus, Italy began an extraordinary, sweeping nationwide travel ban yesterday while in China, the diminishing threat prompted the Chinese President to visit the epicentre.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to the central city of Wuhan was the latest sign that China is edging back toward normal after weeks of extreme quarantine measures to fight the new virus.

A policeman checks cars entering Milan, Northern Italy, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (PHOTO: AP)

China reported just 19 new infections yesterday, down from thousands each day last month. In Italy, the situation was anything but normal. Travel restrictions previously limited to the country’s north were extended everywhere, with soldiers and police enforcing bans.

Neighbouring countries like Malta and Austria slammed their borders with Italy shut. Some 9,172 people were infected in Italy and 463 have died — and many fear the numbers will only worsen. Outbreaks flared in France, Spain and Germany, and fear grew in the United States (US), where over 750 people are infected and several senior politicians were quarantined.