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Austria temporarily suspended rail services to Italy for around four hours on 23 February over coronavirus fears.

The authorities suspected that two passengers may have contracted the coronavirus Covid-19. Austria suspended the services following this.

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The Federal Ministry of the Interior of Austria said that the national railway of Italy had informed Austrian train operator OBB about the health of the passengers.

The authorities stopped the train carrying the passengers before it entered Austria at Brenner crossing.

Rail services resumed after the passengers tested negative for the virus.

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Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said: “There is no need to panic in Austria. Austria is well prepared.

“We take the situation in Italy very seriously and are in close coordination with the Italian authorities through our liaison officer in Italy.

He said that the authorities tested 181 people for the Covid-19 virus in Austria, all of which have tested negative.

Italy has 157 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with four deaths and two recoveries. It is the largest outbreak outside Asia.

To contain the spread of the virus, Italian officials have closed the most affected regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Nehammer added that he expects a coronavirus task force to meet on 24 February to discuss potential border control with Italy.

The Covid-19 epidemic has claimed 2,619 lives and infected more than 79,000 globally.