Italy is scrambling to counter a coronavirus outbreak after a sharp spike in cases and deaths made it the worst-hit country outside Asia.

As of Wednesday morning, 12 people in Italy had died from the virus and at least 322 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the country. All the deaths involved people who were elderly or had other health complications.The country has put 11 towns on lockdown with the hope of containing the spread.
The two most infected regions are Lombardy and Veneto in the north, which contain the major cities of Milan and Venice.
But the virus has also spread farther south, with regions including Tuscany and the island of Sicily also reporting cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Italian officials estimated on Monday that about 100,000 people in the country were affected by travel restrictions. Schools, museums, and theaters across the region have been closed in these areas.

Police officers and members of the armed forces have been given the authority to enforce the lockdown, the BBC reported.
The virus has prompted the cancelation of the annual Venice Carnival and the closing of some major landmarks. The fashion house Giorgio Armani also held its runway show at Milan Fashion Week in an empty theater as a precaution.

Italians or people who had recently visited Italy have tested positive for the coronavirus in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland.