Italy imposes unprecedented restrictions on all its 60 million people
Schools, universities to close, sporting activities suspended
ROME Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people yesterday, with more than 9,000 coronavirus cases. The death toll was 97 taking the total deaths to 463.
In a desperate bid to stem the spread, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte went on television to announce the entire country would effectively be placed on lockdown from yesterday.
"I am going to sign a decree that can be summarised as follows: I stay at home," Mr Conte said.
"Travel must be avoided across the entire peninsula unless it is justified by professional reasons, by cases of need or for health reasons."
The measures extend a quarantine zone that Italy had imposed for its industrial northern heartland around Milan and Venice on Sunday.
The national restrictions will run until April 3 and mean that schools and universities will all immediately close. Serie A football matches and all other sporting events are also being suspended for the coming month.
But it was not immediately clear how the measures would be enforced.
Trains and numerous flights continued to operate into and out of Milan on Monday despite the earlier set of restrictions for its Lombardy region.
Since Covid-19 first emerged in China late last year, Italy has become Europe's hardest-hit country.
An AFP count showed the country had recorded more than half of the 862 deaths reported outside China as of Monday night.
Worldwide, more than 110,000 cases have been recorded in over 100 countries.
The number of confirmed US cases reached 566, including 22 deaths, according to state public health authorities and a running national tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University.
Thirty-four US states and the District of Columbia have reported infections to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is spreading fast in the US and even President Donald Trump has not been spared the spectre of infection.
His incoming White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has self-quarantined himself after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, his spokesman said on Monday.
Mr Meadows is not exhibiting symptoms and a precautionary test came back negative, the spokesman said on Twitter.
"Mark Meadows was advised this weekend that now 12 days prior at (a meeting), he may have come into contact with the Covid-19 positive test individual," the tweet said.
"He'll be self-quarantined till the 14 day period passes on Wednesday."- AFP, REUTERS