China appears to be getting the disease under control, but rapidly expanding outbreaks in Iran, South Korea and Italy are raising fears of a broader epidemic. Milan, usually buzzing with activity, is eerily quiet.

Milan’s normally bustling streets, stores and restaurants are eerily empty. In Italy’s commercial hub, major companies, from banks to the fashion house Giorgio Armani, are telling employees to work at home.

The doors are closed to visitors at the famed opera house La Scala, the Duomo Cathedral — even the bars.

Europe’s largest outbreak of the new coronavirus outbreak has erupted in Lombardy, the northern region that includes Milan. About half of the country’s 229 cases are in Lombardy. The government said at least 26 patients were in intensive care, and has reported six deaths.

The virus represents perhaps the greatest challenge to Europe since the 2015 migration crisis. It could test the principle of open borders and the vaunted but strained European public health systems.

For Italy, Europe’s slowest-growing economy, the vulnerabilities are clear.

Milan represents 10 percent of the Italian economy; Lombardy, more than 20 percent. Milan’s stock market plunged by more than 5 percent on Monday over fears of what may be in store.

Flights from China are blocked and the closure of Chinese factories has disrupted Italian supply chains. Marco Barbieri, the leader of Confcommercio Milan, a business alliance, estimated profits to be off by 20 percent for companies dependent on China.

Eleven towns in Lombardy are on lockdown, and Italy’s government has promised them help similar to that given after earthquakes, like the suspension of tax payments.

Italy’s neighbors have not closed their borders, but the country fears being ostracized and carved into islands of quarantine. The southern region of Basilicata has announced a quarantine on northerners.

The island nation of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, gave passengers on an Alitalia flight from Rome a choice of quarantine or immediate return. They flew back to Italy.


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