Coronavirus spreads to the SOUTH of Italy, with panic-buyers stripping supermarket shelves bare in Palermo after infected tourist from the north – where death toll has hit 7 – visits Sicily

  • Woman from Bergamo, in Italy’s north, went on holiday to Sicily before her home region was put on lockdown 
  • She then developed flu symptoms and went to a Palermo hospital where she tested positive for coronavirus
  • Race is now on to find people she came into contact with as shoppers began panic-buying food and medicine 
  • Italy confirmed 54 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 283 with seven deaths from the virus
  • Austria confirmed its first two cases of the virus on Tuesday, while the first case was also confirmed in Croatia 

Italy has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the south after a holidaymaker from the north fell sick while visiting Sicily with her husband and friends.

The woman, from Bergamo, had travelled to the Sicilian capital of Palermo before her home region of Lombardy was put on lockdown following a surge in cases at the weekend.

But in recent days she began showing flu-like symptoms and went to hospital where she was diagnosed. Guests of the Mercure hotel where she was staying have now been quarantined and tested for the infection.

News that the infection had spread sparked panic-buying in Palermo on Tuesday as shoppers stripped supermarket shelves bare and raided pharmacies for medical supplies.

Italy confirmed a total of 54 new cases of coronavirus across the country on Tuesday, bringing the total to 283 with seven deaths and one person recovered. The total is the largest outside of Asia.

Austria and Croatia also confirmed their first cases of the disease, which had been brought over from Italy.

Shoppers stripped shelves bare of food and other essentials in Palermo on Tuesday after the city's first case of coronavirus was confirmed after a sick woman visited from the north

Shoppers stripped shelves bare of food and other essentials in Palermo on Tuesday after the city’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed after a sick woman visited from the north

The woman travelled from Bergamo, in the now-quarantined Lombardy region, before the lockdown was put in place before falling ill in Palermo (pictured, empty supermarket shelves)

The woman travelled from Bergamo, in the now-quarantined Lombardy region, before the lockdown was put in place before falling ill in Palermo (pictured, empty supermarket shelves)

Italy registered ten new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, but news that the disease has spread to the country's south will come as a hammer-blow to health officials trying to contain it (pictured, panic-buying in Palermo)

Italy registered ten new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, but news that the disease has spread to the country’s south will come as a hammer-blow to health officials trying to contain it (pictured, panic-buying in Palermo)

Shoppers in the Sicilian capital raided shelves for supplies amid fears the region may be locked down to stop the spread of coronavirus, after the city's first confirmed case

Shoppers in the Sicilian capital raided shelves for supplies amid fears the region may be locked down to stop the spread of coronavirus, after the city’s first confirmed case

A pharmacist puts out a sign informing customers that they have sold out of protective masks and sanitising gel in Palermo

A pharmacist puts out a sign informing customers that they have sold out of protective masks and sanitising gel in Palermo

The woman had been staying at the Mercure hotel, in Palermo city centre, along with her husband and friends. The building  has now been quarantined as guests are tested for the virus

The woman had been staying at the Mercure hotel, in Palermo city centre, along with her husband and friends. The building  has now been quarantined as guests are tested for the virus

Austria’s health authorities said two Italian citizens who were likely infected in Lombardy had tested positive in the province of Tyrol, while Croatia said a young man contracted the virus after visiting Milan.

In total 20 Italian provinces have now reported cases, with most being concentrated in the Lombardy and Veneto regions in the north.

But the regions of Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Trentino Alto Adige, Sicily and Lazio – where Rome is located – have also confirmed a limited number of cases.

Of the 283 cases, 109 people are in hospital and showing symptoms, 29 are in intensive care, and 137 have been told to isolate themselves at home.