71-Year-Old with Coronavirus Escapes Italian Hospital, Flees in Taxi

A woman wearing a mask attends a press preview of Raphael's exhibition in Rome, Wedne
AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis

A 71-year-old man infected with Chinese coronavirus escaped a hospital near Milan, Italy, and hailed a taxi as his getaway car on Monday. Italian authorities tracked down the taxi and apprehended the man.

The taxi driver has self-quarantined.

A man who was hospitalized with the coronavirus and in isolation in the infectious disease ward at the Sant’Anna hospital in Como, Italy, had decided that he was feeling well enough to leave, so he collected his things and escaped the hospital on Monday morning, according to a report by La Repubblica.

The 71-year-old man had hailed a taxi as his getaway car and made it all the way home to Casnigo – roughly 70 miles from Como.

When hospital staff took notice of his absence, they informed the police. The military of Bergamo then arrived at the man’s home, where he was apprehended and taken back to the hospital.

The taxi driver, who had been unaware of the situation, has decided to self-quarantine.

Last week, 18 people – 12 of whom are foreigners – were caught trying to evade authorities in an attempt to escape a quarantined zone in Lombardy, Italy.

On Saturday, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory, the highest level, urging Americans not to travel to the two infected Italian regions at the center of the outbreak: Lombardy and Veneto.

Since then, however, the virus appears to have proliferated, with the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna surpassing Veneto with regards to confirmed coronavirus cases. Emilia-Romagna is reported to have 544 cases, while Veneto has 360.

Lombardy remains the most heavily infected region in Italy, with 1,820 confirmed cases thus far.

As of Wednesday, Italy has suffered 3,089 confirmed coronavirus cases and 107 deaths, with 276 people reported to have been “healed.”

Nineteen of Italy’s twenty regions have been infected with the coronavirus, with the virus most heavily concentrated in northern regions.

As confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths rise each day, the Italian government is considering closing all schools in the country from March 5 until the middle of the month, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.

Schools have already been closed for the past two weeks in Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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