(CNN)Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has admitted that a hospital in the country’s north had contributed to the spread of the deadly coronavirus, raising questions about whether the European nation is capable of containing the outbreak.
Italy now has the highest number of coronavirus infections outside Asia, as 54 new cases were detected in the country’s north overnight, bringing the total to 283, the Italian civil protection agency said Tuesday. The cases are heavily concentrated in the region of Lombardy where 212 infections have been confirmed. Seven people have so far died from the virus in the country.
“Obviously we cannot predict the progress of the virus. It is clear that there has been an outbreak and it has spread from there,” Conte told reporters Monday evening, referring to the hospital where the first case was confirmed.
He added that it was clear “there has been a management of the hospital not entirely proper according to prudent protocols, which are recommended in these cases, and this has certainly contributed to the spread.”
Conte did not elaborate on what protocols were breached.
Italian authorities have not been able to identify Patient 0, the term given to the person who brought the coronavirus into the country, a crucial piece of information that could potentially prevent new clusters of cases.
The rapid spread of the virus in Italy has sparked fears of contagion across the European Union. The EU’s Schengen Area allows people in most member states, as well as many tourists, to move freely betwe