Ghost town: Venice deserted as coronavirus fears sweep Italy

The Italian city of Venice has turned into a ghost town as coronavirus fears sweep the north of the country.

Following a reported 50% increase in coronavirus cases on Sunday, the historic tourist destination has been deserted by residents and visitors alike.

Waiters stand by an empty restaurant in St Mark's Square, Venice, which is usually full of tourists. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

Eerie pictures of empty boats, canals and even St Mark’s Square this weekend revealed the level of fear in the city.

Read more: What it’s like to run a town under coronavirus lockdown

A man in a protective suit sanitises a water taxi in Venice. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)
A lone tourist in a protective mask on a water taxi. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

The Venetian tourism industry is still reeling after severe flooding in November left much of the city under water, it is now facing a very different crisis. More than 1,600 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Italy – higher than any other country outside Asia – and 34 people have died.

Read more: UK coronavirus patient works at cancer unit, NHS confirms

The spread of coronavirus has caused a decline in the number of tourists in Venice. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

France has been warned to prepare for an outbreak similar to Italy as the virus spreads across Europe.

The Louvre museum in Paris shut on Sunday after 300 staff voted “almost unanimously” not to open.

Both France and Switzerland, which banned mass gatherings, have cautioned citizens not use “la bise” – greeting people with a kiss – for fear of spreading the virus.

A man in a protective mask walks through St Mark's Square. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

Twelve more people in England and one in Scotland have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of UK cases to 36 on Monday.

Read more: Coronavirus could return every winter 'like the common cold'

Three of the new cases in England were linked to a man from Surrey who was the first to be infected within the UK.

Waiters at an empty restaurant in St Mark's Square. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was still in the "containment" phase of the outbreak.

Read more: What could a coronavirus worst-case scenario really look like in the UK?

He said the government contingency plans, which will be published this week, included banning big events.

One of many almost-empty canals in Venice. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)

Boris Johnson will chair his first emergency Cobra meeting on coronavirus on Monday morning.

Public Health England has warned that Britain needs to be prepared for "more widespread transmission" of the coronavirus – including cases that might be "quite challenging".

Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK