The Italian government is to lock down the region of Lombardy, as it battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A draft decree would extend the quarantined areas, so-called “red-zones”, ordering people not to enter or leave.
The country is grappling to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, which has claimed 233 lives and infected a total of 5,883 people.
Italian authorities announced that a new decree containing draconian measures would be approved later on Saturday. It will include the power to impose fines on anyone caught entering or leaving Lombardy, the worst-affected region, until 3 April. People may be allowed in and out for serious reasons.
Rome is also considering prolonging the closure of schools, while major sporting events, such as Serie A football games, will be played behind closed doors.
The number of coronavirus cases in Italy leaped by more than 1,200 in a 24-hour period, the civil protection agency said on Saturday.
It is the biggest daily rise since the outbreak began two weeks ago.
The northern regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto are the hardest hit, representing 85% of cases and 92% of recorded deaths.