NEW YORK - The governor of a southern Italian region insisted on Friday that seasonal Bulgarian crop pickers who live in an apartment complex with dozens of COVID-19 cases must stay inside for 15 days, not even emerging for food.
Wearing a mask to discourage virus spread, Campania Gov. Vincenzo De Luca told reporters that the national civil protection agency should deliver groceries to the estimated 700 occupants of the apartments in Mondragone, a seaside town about 50 kilometers (32 miles) northwest of Naples.
The complex must be kept in “rigorous isolation,” De Luca said. That means that for 15 days, “nobody leaves and nobody enters” the apartments, where some 50 cases have been confirmed.
The south has been spared the high numbers of coronavirus cases that have ravaged northern Italy.
Known for his particularly hard line on anti-contagion measures throughout the nationwide coronavirus outbreak this year, De Luca has vowed to lock down all of Mondragone, population 30,000, if the number of cases at the hot spot reach 100.
"Have I been clear? I'm used to speaking clearly,'' De Luca told RAI state TV.
The apartment complex was put under lockdown earlier in the week, and all of its residents were ordered to be tested for the virus, after a handful of cases surfaced.
The Campania region has requested police reinforcements to impose the quarantine on the complex. De Luca said the Interior Ministry had authorized an army contingent.
The apartment residents have balked at staying indoors in these hot, steamy summer days. Tensions flared on Thursday, with Italians in the streets jeering at the Bulgarian residents of the apartment complex.
The Bulgarians are currently harvesting string beans and other vegetables at farms near Mondragone.
During the pandemic, Campania has registered some 4,660 COVID-19 cases and 431 deaths, a small fraction of the nationwide cases and deaths.
In Italy's north, in the area of Bologna, another outbreak triggered concern by health authorities. Italian news reports said 64 workers at courier services, most of them with one company, have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. So far, 370 people, including the delivery workers and their families, have been tested. Nearly all of the positive cases are without symptoms and only two have been hospitalized, Corriere della Sera daily reported.