Coronavirus: whole of Italy goes into lock down

Italy extends quarantine zone to cover entire country.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has announced that the entire country is to go into quarantine, as part of emergency measures aimed at halting the spread of Italy's Coronavirus outbreak.

The government's extraordinary measures, announced at Palazzo Chigi late on 9 March, comes amid a worsening of the Coronavirus crisis.

Conte said the new stringent measures, covering the entire country, will be signed tonight and would take effect tomorrow morning, 10 March. 

"We are seeing a significant rise in the number of people in intensive care and unfortunately in the number of deaths" - Conte said - "Our habits must change now: we must give up something for the good of Italy."

The premier called for the cooperation of all Italians to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.

Conte said that public health took precedence over everything else and called for responsibility on behalf of all Italians.

The country's schools and universities will remain closed until 3 April.

The latest decree is the most sweeping anti-Coronavirus measure anywhere in the world outside of China.

The move follows the locking down of much of the north of the country, including the Lombardy region and the cities of Milan and Venice, last weekend.

On 7 March, hours before the order shutting down the northern areas took effect, the Italian media published a draft version of the decree, creating widespread panic and resulting in an exodus of people heading south from Milan.

The announcement of the latest extraordinary measure comes as Italy's Coronavirus outbreak registers 7,985 infections and 463 deaths, according to the latest figures released late on 9 March.

Cover photo: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com