Quarter of Italy’s population under lockdown in Lombardy region

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Italy has formally locked down more than a quarter of its population in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. More than 5,800 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Italy, after an increase by 1,200 in a 24-hour period. 233 people have died. Italy has been the hardest hit European country outside of China following the outbreak.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree enacting force quarantine for the region of Lombardy in the early hours of Sunday. Lombardy is home to more than 10 million people and the financial capital, Milan and other provinces, totalling around 16 million residents.

The provinces under formal lockdown include: Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua and Treviso.

The decree includes the power to impose fines on anyone caught entering or leaving Lombardy until 3 April. It also provides for the banning of all public events, closing cinemas, theatres, gyms, discos and pubs. Funerals and weddings will also be prohibited and leave for healthcare workers has been cancelled.

The closure of schools has been prolonged across the country until at least 3 April. Major sporting events such as Serie A football games will be played behind closed doors.

On Saturday, the Vatican announced that the morning Sunday prayer will not be delivered from a window looking over St. Peter’s Square but instead it will be livestreamed from inside a library the Vatican.

Pope Francis’ general audiences will be live streamed with no participants at papal morning Masses until 15 March.