Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is considering postponing the next round of Serie A games due to the coronavirus outbreak reaching the country.
Italy currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe – 152 have been reported and seven people have died as a result of contacting the virus which originated in China – and it has started spreading across the world despite efforts from world health organisations to contain the outbreak.
As reported by Italian journalist Antonio Vitello, Conte has stated that the next round of fixtures may be postponed.
premier Conte: “Valutiamo il rinvio della 26.a giornata di Serie A. Non credo che in una settimana il contagio rallenterà tanto da permettere di riprendere le manifestazioni sportive”
— Antonio Vitiello (@AntoVitiello) February 23, 2020
He said: “We are considering postponing matchday 26 of Serie A. I don’t think the contagion will slow down in a week to allow sporting events to resume.”
This follows the recent decision to postpone three matches scheduled for the previous matchday, with Inter’s clash with Sampdoria among the games to be called off. Atalanta’s game with Sassuolo and Hellas Verona’s with Cagliari were also not played as a result of the strict quarantine measures in place in the Veneto and Lombardy regions.
While those regions are currently closed off, with schools and businesses being shut down to prevent the spread of the disease, there are still fears it could affect other parts of the country.
This weekend’s clashes include a massive game between Juventus and Inter, while Lazio are set to host Bologna. Napoli are scheduled to play Torino, while Genoa are preparing to travel to Milan on Sunday.
Inter are also currently scheduled to host Ludogorets in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie on Thursday, but this too may be postponed or played behind closed doors to ease their mounting tally of postponed games.
The Bulgarian club have made a formal enquiry to both UEFA and Inter for more information as more than 600 fans prepare to travel for the game.