coronavirus italy
A customer wearing a protective face mask and gloves reads a cleaning product label in a grocery store in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Italy's known coronavirus infections surpassed 1,000 on Saturday, skyrocketing from nearly zero in just over a week, the nation's emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said.

The total number of infections is 1,128, with 29 possible virus-linked deaths, the Italian Civil Protection official said at a Rome news conference. A day earlier, the total was 888, including 821 current infections, 46 recoveries and 21 dead.

On Feb. 21, the number of known cases was just 17, and has jumped as infection and testing have increased. The biggest pocket of cases is in the Lombardy region in Italy's north, where a cluster of towns near Milan is under quarantine. Other cases have popped up elsewhere in Italy, including on the fringes of the capital.

A woman from Fiumicino, the town that borders Rome's main airport, tested positive after traveling to the Bergamo area in Lombardy, regional health authorities said in a statement Saturday. Her husband and one of her two children were also positive in preliminary tests.

The outbreak in Italy has been linked to a proliferation of cases on multiple continents, with infections in countries including Brazil, the UK, Austria, Mexico and Nigeria traced to travelers coming from Italy.

The Italian government is seeking to contain economic damage as the virus spreads. It approved a raft of financial measures Friday meant to ease the outbreak's impact on businesses and individuals, saying it would boost funds to support exporters by 350 million euros ($386 million), suspend utility payments in quarantine zones until April 30 and take other steps to support agriculture and travel industries.

Italy's tourism business has seen an immediate hit, with travelers canceling bookings from both abroad and within the country. Among the government measures, travel agencies may be able to reimburse clients with vouchers that are good for a year, Culture and Tourism Minister Dario Franceschini said in a Twitter message.

The US State Department issued a notice on Friday advising citizens to reconsider travel to Italy due to the outbreak. The US issued the same level advisory for South Korea on Feb. 26 because of the virus.

The new advisory ranks Italy as a less severe health threat than China, which the US lists as "Do Not Travel," and more severe than Japan and Hong Kong, which are listed as "Exercise Increased Caution," according to the State Department.

For Italians, especially across the country's north, disruptions to daily life pile on even outside the small quarantine zone.

Schools in the three regions with the most known infections - Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna - will remain closed next week, according to statements from the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regional leaders. And a handful of games in Italy's top soccer league were postponed, including Turin's Juventus versus Inter Milan.