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Italy cancels Venice carnival in bid to halt the spread of virus

Carnival normally draws tens of thousands of visitors to the lagoon city.

VENICE, Italy — Italian authorities have announced they are shutting down Venice's famed Carnival events in a bid to stop the spread of the novel virus, as numbers of infected persons in the country have soared to at least 133.

Veneto regional Gov. Luca Zaia said the shutdown will begin Sunday evening.

Carnival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the lagoon city, would have run through Tuesday.

Authorities said three people in Venice have tested positive, all of them in their late 80s and who are hospitalized in critical condition. Two people have died from the virus in Italy. Officials said the people who died were in their 70s. A 78-year-old man infected with the virus in Veneto and a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy. A post-mortem test performed on the woman came back positive, though it wasn't clear if the virus caused her death.   

Nearly all of Italy's cases are clustered in the north, including in the northeast Veneto region which includes Venice.

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A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 78,000 people globally. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

The International Air Transport Association says the outbreak of the new virus is threatening to erase $29 billion of this year's revenue for global airlines, mostly for Chinese carriers, as travel crashes worldwide.

The trade group for global airlines said Thursday the virus causing COVID-19 has the potential to cause a 13% decline in demand for Asian carriers this year. The contraction comes at a time when Asian airlines' sales have been growing. IATA said global air traffic will be reduced by 4.7%, marking the first overall decline in such annual demand since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.  

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