First confirmed cases
On 31 January, the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Rome. A Chinese couple, originally from Wuhan, who had arrived in Italy on January 23 via Milan Malpensa Airport, travelled from the airport to Verona, then to Parma, arriving in Rome on 28 January. The next afternoon, they developed a cough, and by evening the man had a fever; the couple were taken to Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases where they tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and were hospitalised.On 31 January, the Italian government suspended all flights to and from China and declared a state of emergency with the duration of six months. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy was the first EU country to take this kind of precautionary measure.The government also introduced thermal scanners and temperature checks on international passengers arriving at Italian airports.
On 6 February, an Italian repatriated from Wuhan tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in Italy to three.
On 22 February, the repatriated Italian recovered and was discharged from the hospital. On 22 and 26 February, the two previously infected Chinese tourists tested negative for COVID-19 at Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute in Rome.
The Lombardy outbreak came to light when a 38-year-old Italian tested positive in Codogno, a comunein the province of Lodi. On 14 February, he felt unwell and went to a doctor in Castiglione d’Adda. He was prescribed treatments for influenza.On 16 February, as the man’s condition worsened, he went to Codogno Hospital, reporting respiratory problems. Initially there was no suspicion of COVID-19, so no additional precautionary measures were taken, and the virus was able to infect other patients and health workers. On 19 February, the wife of the patient revealed he had met an Italian friend who had returned from China on 21 January, who subsequently tested negative.Later, the patient, his pregnant wife and a friend tested positive. On 20 February, three more cases were confirmed after the patients reported symptoms of pneumonia. Thereafter, extensive screenings and checks were performed on everyone that had possibly been in contact with or near the infected subjects. It has been subsequently reported that the origin of these cases has a possible connection to the first European local transmission that occurred in Munich, Germany, on 19 January 2020, consistent with phylogenetic analysis of viral genome. The 38-year-old man was asymptomatic for weeks, reportedly led an active social life and potentially interacted with dozens of people before spreading the virus at Codogno Hospital. Afterward, he was transferred to Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia, and his wife to Sacco Hospital in Milan.Protezione Civile volunteers carrying out health checks at Guglielmo Marconi Airport
On 21 February, 16 more cases were confirmed – 14 in Lombardy, including the doctor who prescribed treatments to the 38-year-old Codogno man, and two in Veneto. On 22 February, a 77-year-old woman from Casalpusterlengo, who suffered from pneumonia and visited the same emergency room as the 38-year-old from Codogno, died in Lombardy. Including the 78-year-old man who died in Veneto, the number of cases in Italy rose to 79. Of the 76 newly discovered cases, 54 were found in Lombardy, including one patient in San Raffaele Hospital in Milan and eight patients in Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia,[17 in Veneto, two in Emilia-Romagna, two in Lazio and one in Piedmont.
On 23 February, a 68-year-old woman with cancer from Trescore Cremasco died in Crema. The number of cases in Italy rose to 152, including fourteen patients being treated at Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia. On 24 February, an 84-year-old man with pre-existing medical conditions from Villa di Serio died in Bergamo while hospitalised in the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital. An 88-year-old man from Caselle Landi, who resided in Codogno, died on the same day. An 80-year-old man from Castiglione d’Adda died at the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan. He was previously hospitalised in Lodi because of a heart attack, and then transferred to Milan when confirmed as positive. A 62-year-old man with pre-existing medical conditions from Castiglione d’Adda died in Sant’Anna Hospital in Como. Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana announced that the number of cases in Lombardy had risen to 172, with a total of 229 confirmed in Italy. On 25 February, an 84-year-old man from Nembro, a 91-year-old man from San Fiorano and an 83-year-old woman from Codogno died from complications caused by the infections.
The number of cases in Emilia-Romagna rose to 23, spreading through the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Modena and Rimini. These were all linked to the Lombardy cluster. A new case linked to the outbreak in Lombardy appeared in Palermo, Sicily, when a 60-year-old woman from Bergamo tested positive and was admitted to Cervello Hospital. A 49-year-old man who previously visited Codogno tested positive in Pescia, Tuscany. Officials in Liguriaconfirmed that a 72-year-old female tourist from Castiglione d’Adda tested positive in Alassio while she was staying in a hotel. The woman was treated at a hospital in Genoa. Later in the day, a second case in Liguria was confirmed, a 54-year-old man who had visited Codogno for work and tested positive in La Spezia.On 26 February, a 69-year-old man from Lodi with pre-existing medical conditions died in Emilia-Romagna. The mayor of Borgonovo Val Tidone, Pietro Mazzocchi, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and underwent a voluntary isolation at home.
Additional cases involving six minors were identified in Lombardy. A 4-year-old girl from Castiglione d’Adda was admitted to Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia, and a 15-year-old was hospitalised in Seriate Hospital in Bergamo. Two 10-year-olds from Cremona and Lodi tested positive and were discharged. A 17-year-old from Valtellina who attended a school in Codogno, and a school friend from Sondrio, also tested positive. Officials in Apulia confirmed that a 33-year-old man from Taranto, who returned from Codogno on 24 February, tested positive and was admitted to San Giuseppe Moscati Hospital. A close advisor to Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Although Fontana tested negative, he decided to put himself in preventive isolation as well. Officials in Campania confirmed two new cases. A 24-year-old woman from Caserta, who had visited Milan, tested positive. A 25-year-old Ukrainian woman from Cremona, who previously visited Lombardy, tested positive at a hospital in Vallo della Lucania. Both were transferred to Hospital Domenico Cotugno in Naples, where they underwent isolation.
On 26 February, a woman that had returned from Milan in the days before the emergency in Lombardy started tested positive for the virus in Catania, Sicily.On 27 February, two 88-year-olds and an 80-year-old died in Lombardy. Officials in Abruzzo confirmed that a 50-year-old man from Brianza, Lombardy tested positive and was admitted to the intensive-care unit at Giuseppe Mazzini Hospital at Teramo. He and his family were staying in his holiday home at Roseto degli Abruzzi. On 28 February, four people died, including an 85-year-old Lombardy resident in one of the quarantine zones at a hospital in Piacenza, a 77-year-old and two others over the age of 80. As of 1 March 2020, there were 984 confirmed cases and 73 recoveries in Lombardy. On 4 March, Emilia-Romagna’s regional minister of health, Raffaele Donini, and minister for territories, Barbara Lori, were declared positive for COVID-19. Governor Stefano Bonaccini and the other members of the regional government tested negative.
On 8 March, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended the quarantine lockdown to cover all the region of Lombardy and 14 other northern provinces. On 10 March, Prime Minister Conte increased the quarantine lockdown to cover all of Italy, including travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings.
On March 25, the Associated Press dubbed the UEFA Champions League match between Bergamo club Atalanta B.C. and Spanish club Valencia at the San Siroin Milan on 19 February as “Game Zero”. The match was the first time Atalanta has progressed to a Champions League round of 16 match, and had an attendance of over 40,000 people — about one third of Bergamo’s population. By March 24, almost 7,000 people in the province of Bergamo had tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 1,000 people had died from the virus — making Bergamo the most hard-hit province in all of Italy during the pandemic.