January 30, 2020 / 10:39 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-First two coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy -prime minister

(Adds details of prime minister’s news conference, quotes, context)

ROME, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that two cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Italy, the first in the country since the outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Two Chinese tourists who were visiting Italy had contracted the virus, Conte said. Checks were being made to reconstruct the path of the two people to avoid further risks.

The head of the national institute for infectious diseases said their condition was good.

“We have two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy,” the prime minister told a news conference, adding that the government had decided to close air traffic to and from China.

“As far as we know we are the first country in the EU to adopt such a measure” Conte said.

A cabinet meeting has been called on Friday to decide further measures, Conte said.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 170 people in China constituted a global public health emergency.

Both Chinese tourists were in an isolation unit of Rome’s Spallanzani institute, a centre specializing in infectious diseases and viruses.

“The two people have been under observation in the hospital since yesterday ... The diagnosis was certified by the National Institute of Health,” said Giuseppe Ippolito, scientific director of the Spallanzani institute. (Reporting by Angelo Amante and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool)

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