Italy reports 50 percent increase in coronavirus cases in just one day

Italian authorities said Sunday that the country has confirmed 1,694 cases of a potentially deadly coronavirus, representing a 50 percent increase in the last 24 hours alone.

Officials added that five more people have died from the disease, bringing the total to 34 in the country, according to The Associated Press. Health officials reportedly noted that a marked increase in coronavirus cases was expected because it can take up to two weeks for containment measures to take effect and because of Italy's sizable elderly population. Giovanni Rezza, director of the infective illness department at the National Health Institute, said it would take up to 10 more days for the outbreak to become less severe.

The announcement arrived following a week in which U.S. health officials warned that a coronavirus outbreak within the country's border was likely inevitable and as the Trump administration created a task force designed to combat its spread.

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Vice President Pence, who is leading the administration's response, said Saturday that the State Department had raised the travel advisory on specific regions in South Korea and Italy, countries hit particularly hard by the virus, to the highest level. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also recommended that Americans avoid non-essential travel to the country. 

The updated travel advisories were followed by Delta and American Airlines announcing that they would suspend daily flights to Milan. Delta said it would temporarily halt daily flights between Milan and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport until May. American said its flights between Milan and airports in New York and Miami would be postponed until April 25. 

Officials in Italy have reportedly warned that the updated travel advisories could severely damage the country's tourism industry, which makes up about 13 percent of its gross domestic product. About 5 million Americans visit Italy annually, the AP noted.

More than half of the coronavirus cases have been reported in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy whose capital is Milan. Veneto and Emilia-Romagna have also accounted for a significant amount of the reported cases, which have led to closures of schools, museums and public offices. 

The CDC has warned that the virus, which originated in China, could cause a severe disruption to life in the U.S. as well. Health officials in Washington state said Saturday that a man in his 50s had died from the coronavirus, representing the first death from from the disease in the United States. Cases have been confirmed in multiple U.S. states, including California, Oregon and Rhode Island. 

Some of the cases involve patients with no known travel to countries most impacted by the outbreak or contact with infected individuals, indicating that the disease is spreading.