Five Serie A soccer matches in Italy were postponed on Saturday in an attempt to contain the spread of a virus outbreak.
The fixtures were originally due to be played without fans but the decision to call them off was taken by the league as part of “urgent measures for the containment and management” of the COVID-19 disease.
Italy has been struggling to contain the rapidly spreading virus with 888 cases recorded in the latest tally, making it the hardest hit country outside Asia.
With clusters of virus infections in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, the biggest fixture lost from the Serie A program is league leader Juventus' home contest against Inter Milan in Turin.
The match between first and third was scheduled for Sunday but is now due to be played on May 13. The other contests postponed until then are Milan vs. Genoa, Parma vs. Spal, Udinese vs. Fiorentina and Sassuolo vs. Brescia.
Researchers at Milan's Sacco Hospital said they isolated in four patients an Italian variation of COVID-19 that is different from the strain identified in Wuhan, China, where the epidemic began. They expressed hope the discovery could lead to more targeted treatment of patients.
Four games were still due to go ahead in Italy's top division this weekend.
Soccer has also been impacted elsewhere in Europe, with games in the top two divisions in Switzerland postponed after a federal order that will see all events involving more than 1,000 people banned until mid-March.