'Don't give up!' - Inter boss Conte makes plea amid coronavirus emergency in Italy

Goal.com

Inter head coach Antonio Conte has issued a plea for people to stay home and respect the rules amid the ongoing coronavirus emergency in Italy.

Outside of China, Italy has been the hardest hit by the virus – named COVID-19 – with more than 1,400 deaths recorded from at least 21,100 cases.

The global pandemic has forced the postponement of all sport, including Serie A, until April 3 in Italy, where the country is in lockdown with all shops except food stores and pharmacies closing.

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"Please stay home and respect the rules," Conte said in a video message posted via Inter's official channels.

"That's the only way to confront this emergency.

"It's a difficult and tough moment but if we stick together, we'll get through it. Don't give up!"

Conte is in isolation, along with his Inter team, after coming into contact with Juventus defender Daniele Rugani – who contracted coronavirus.

Rugani was the first Serie A player to test positive for COVID-19, which has spread alarmingly quickly in the country, while Manolo Gabbiadini is among a number of Sampdoria players to contract the virus.

Juventus beat Inter 2-0 at the Allianz Stadium on March 8 in a behind closed doors fixture, which ensured that the reigning Italian champions remain on course to retain their crown.

The Bianconeri are top of the Serie A standings by a single point ahead of Lazio after 26 fixtures, with Inter now nine points off the pace in third.

It is not yet known when the 2019-20 campaign will resume, with a number of major European leagues now thought to be considering the complete cancellation of the season as efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus continue.

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