The word quarantine comes from 17th-century Venetian dialect for 40 days, which was the number of times ships had to wait in isolation before entering certain Italian ports during the pandemic known as the Black Death.
On Sunday morning, the regional governor of Lombardy, Attilo Fontana, confirmed that 89 people have now tested positive for the virus and a much larger but unspecified number are referred to as suspect cases.
The second hotspot is in the Veneto region, near Venice, which is celebrating Carnevale to somewhat diminished crowds. Twelve people in the region have tested positive even though none of them has ever been to mainland China or, as far as is known at this point, been in contact with any obvious vectors.
Other cases in Turin and Milan confirmed Sunday morning have spread the panic even further. Closing down such major metropolitan hubs would be a logistical and economic disaster. Prime Minister Conte says the situation is “fluid”.