Rome: A total of 322 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Italy, of whom 10 have died, Angelo Borrelli, chief of the Civil Protection Department and extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, told a televised press conference Tuesday afternoon.
"Unfortunately, today we recorded the deaths of three people in Lombardy," said Borrelli in reference to the northern Italian region where the epidemic first broke out on Feb. 21.
The newly deceased are two men aged 84 and 91 and a woman aged 83, said Borrelli.
The death toll in Italy is thus up from seven announced on Monday evening.
The government has placed a total of 11 towns - 10 in Lombardy and one in Veneto region whose capital is Venice - under lockdown in an effort to contain the outbreak.
Of those tested positive, 240 are in Lombardy, 43 in Veneto, 26 in the Emilia Romagna region, three in Piedmont, three in the Lazio region whose capital is Rome, three in Sicily, two in Tuscany, one in the Liguria region whose capital is Genoa, and one in the autonomous province of Bolzano, which is located near Austria.
The numbers above also include fatalities: nine in Lombardy and one in Veneto, Borrelli explained.
From now on all test results and fatalities must be confirmed by the National Institute of Health (ISS), said Lombardy Region Welfare Councilor Giulio Gallera at a televised press conference on Tuesday.
"If the ISS confirms they were due to coronavirus, we will release the numbers," Gallera noted.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who held a meeting on Tuesday with his counterparts from Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland as well as European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, said during a televised press conference that it has been agreed to keep borders open and to share epidemiological information between countries.
"Shutting down the borders would be a disproportionate and mistaken measure," Speranza said. "Viruses don't recognize borders, so it is obvious that we must cooperate, since no country can make it alone."
Also on Tuesday, Coldiretti farmers' association raised the alarm in a statement about 500 farms in the two red zones in Lombardy and Veneto facing the risk of "paralysis", with farmers being prevented from milking their cows and attending their fields.
Both areas have a strong agricultural sector, from livestock breeding to vineyards, from agro-tourism to wineries, it noted.
"The difficulties extend to the entire area of the Po Valley, where one third of Made-in-Italy agro-food products originate and which is being directly affected by the coronavirus emergency," the statement added.
Turkish plane passengers under quarantine over coronavirus concerns
A Turkish Airlines plane, departing from Tehran in Iran and due to arrive in Istanbul, was diverted to Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday over the suspicion of COVID-19 infection and passengers onboard have been taken under quarantine.
A total of 132 passengers and crews will be kept under observation for 14 days, the Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca said in a written statement.
The plane was bounded from Tehran to Istanbul and was carrying Turkish nationals, local daily Hurriyet reported.
Some 17 passengers reportedly have fever and some of them were traveling from the city of Qom of Iran to Tehran before boarding on the Turkish plane.
As of Feb. 23, Turkey closed land and railway crossings with Iran. However, the airway is still open for Iranian citizens who want to return home.
Earlier Tuesday, Turkish Airlines announced to suspend its flights to and from Iran till March 10 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, except flights to the capital Tehran.