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Italy locks down entire country to halt coronavirus spread

A man wearing a protective face mask walks through a street after the Italian government imposed a virtual lockdown on the north of Italy including Venice to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak, in Venice, Italy, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri

Italy locks down entire country to halt coronavirus spread

Italy has been put under a total lockdown amid the spread of COVID-19, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announcing he will extend restrictions already in place in the country’s north.

Italy locks down entire country to halt coronavirus spread

Blanket travel restrictions were announced on Sunday for Italy’s Lombardy region and 14 more provinces.

These restrictions will now be put in place across the rest of the country, as well as a ban on all public events.

Conte said people will only be allowed to travel for work or family emergencies in order to protect the most fragile members of society from the virus.

Schools and universities across the country will be closed until 3 April, but Conte said public transit will remain operational.

Passengers departing on flights who are not temporary visitors will have to justify their travel, as will people arriving by plane.

There will be controls at train stations to check temperatures, and cruise ships will be forbidden to dock at various ports.

More than 400 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy, and there are 9,172 cases.

Italy has the most cases of the novel coronavirus of any European country, with cases confirmed in all 20 regions.

The lockdown in the north saw inmates overrun numerous prisons on Monday in response to visitors being banned to prevent further spread of the virus.

The uproar resulted in prisoners escaping their facilities and kidnapping officers across 22 prisons.

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