Venice Carnival cancelled in Italy in a bid to stop spread of COVID-19

Italy scrambled Sunday to check the spread of the new viral disease amid rapidly rising numbers of infections in the country and a third death, calling off the Venice Carnival attended by thousands of revelers, scrapping major league soccer matches in the stricken area and shuttering theaters, including Milan’s legendary La Scala.

Also rising was concern in Europe, including by neighboring Austria, which dangled the specter of closing its border if the health emergency worsens.

On Sunday night, Austria stopped all train traffic to and from Italy after suspicions that a train at its southern border with Italy had two passengers possibly infected with the virus on board, authorities said.

Austria’s interior ministry said it had been informed by Italy’s railway company that two people had fever and stopped the train at the Brenner crossing before it could enter Austria.

The train was coming from Venice en route to Munich in southern Germany. Italian state railways said it didn’t immediately have additional details.

The decision to call off Carnival was announced by Veneto regional Gov. Luca Zaia as the numbers of confirmed virus cases soared to 152, the largest number outside Asia.

“The ordinance is immediately operative and will go into effect at midnight,″ said Zaia, whose area includes Venice, where thousands packed St. Mark’s Square. Carnival would have run through Tuesday.

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