A third person infected with the coronavirus has died in Italy, as the government struggles to contain an outbreak of the illness in the north of the country with more than 130 cases reported since Friday.

Lombardy regional councillor Giulio Gallera told reporters the victim was an elderly woman from the town of Crema, east of Milan, who was also suffering from cancer.

Two other elderly patients in northern Italy have died over the past 48 hours.

In the UK, four cruise ship passengers flown to England this weekend have tested positive for the coronavirus strain Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 13.

The four have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres.

They had been among a group of 30 British nationals and two Irish citizens who arrived at a quarantine block at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside yesterday.

England's chief medical officer said the virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been held for more than two weeks off the coast of Japan.

The British Department of Health said a "full infectious disease risk assessment" was done before Saturday's repatriation flight and that no-one who boarded the flight had displayed any symptoms of the virus.

'Draconian measures'

Italy has adopted what it is describing as "urgent and extraordinary measures" to tackle the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe.

Eleven towns - 10 in Lombardy and one in neighbouring Veneto - are under lockdown, with some 50,000 residents prohibited from leaving. Regional authorities have ordered gathering spots, such as bars, restaurants and discos to close.  

Schools throughout the affected areas are to remain closed next week. 

Italians wait for access to a supermarket as northern towns go into lockdown

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said people would not be allowed to enter or leave the affected areas in the north of the country, without special permission.

Most of Italy's cases are centred around Codogno, about 70km southeast of Milan.

Austria has denied entry to a train from Italy on suspicion that two travellers might be infected with the coronavirus, the Austrian interior ministry has said.

"Tonight a train on its way from Venice to Munich was stopped at the Austrian border," the interior ministry said.

The Italian State Railways had informed Austrian train operator OBB that there were two people with fever symptoms on the train, the ministry's statement said.

The train was now waiting at the Brenner Pass on Italian territory. "The further procedure is currently being discussed together with the Italian authorities."

It is unclear when the train will be able to continue on its journey, an OBB spokesman said.

There have been 181 suspected coronavirus cases in Austria,with none confirmed, according to the interior minister.


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The Italy versus Scotland women's Six Nations game set for this evening was postponed over the outbreak, while three football matches in the country's top league, Serie A, were also called off due to virus fears.

Anxiety over the outbreak - which has killed more than 2,400 and infected nearly 80,000, mostly in China - crept onto the catwalk of Milan Fashion Week, which ended today.

Giorgio Armani decided to hold its womenswear show in an empty theatre as a precaution, instead opting to stream the show online.

People seen at Milan Fashion Week cover their faces

Italian officials cancelled the final two days of the Venice Carnival, due to take place tomorrow and Tuesday, because of the outbreak. The carnival draws tourists from around the world.

The head of the Veneto region Luca Zaia confirmed earlier that events scheduled for today in the lagoon city would continue as planned.

"But as of this evening there will be a ban on the Venice Carnival as well as on all events, sporting as well, until 1 March inclusive," he said.

"All private and public gatherings" must be avoided, Mr Zaia said, adding that all schools will also be closed until 1 March.

He said such "draconian measures" were driven by the need to avoid problems after the Venice region reported Italy's first local coronavirus death on Friday.

The last two days of the Venice Carnival will not go ahead