Coronavirus: Juventus' Higuain back in Argentina despite Italy lockdown, positive teammates - source

Juventus trio Gonzalo Higuain, Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic have all left Italy after being given permission by the club despite two of their teammates having tested positive for coronavirus, a source told ESPN.

As of Wednesday, the death toll from coronavirus in Italy -- the worst-hit country outside of China -- had risen to 2,978 with 475 recorded in just one day. Italy had already been total lockdown as authorities attempt to contain the outbreak.

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Juve players Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi both tested positive for the virus. However, a source has confirmed to ESPN that Higuain was given permission to return to Argentina due to a "family issue," after a test for the virus came back negative and took a private jet from Turin airport.

Khedira was given permission to return to be with his family in Germany while Pjanic has also gone back to Luxembourg, the source added.

Serie A was the first major European league to impose postponement and behind-closed-doors measurements following the outbreak of coronavirus, with all of the other soon having followed the suit.

Paris Saint-Germain teammates Neymar and Thiago Silva have also returned to Brazil with permission from their club on Wednesday, while Edinson Cavani went back to Uruguay, before they went into lockdown.

The virus has also seen the European Championship and Copa America both postponed from 2020 to 2021.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the world in recent months.

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, although researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon.

Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk. The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces.

The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.