The Italian government on Sunday took the most drastic measures yet to try and stop the rapid spread of the new coronavirus, closing off the entire Lombardy region in the north, including Milan, and more than a dozen other provinces.

The announcement came after Italy saw its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since an outbreak erupted there last month. The number of cases throughout Italy is now at 5,883, with close to half that number — 2,651 — hospitalized. More than 230 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

“We want to protect the health of all citizens,” Conte said. “We are aware that this will create unease and that these measures will be a sacrifice, big and small. But this is the time to be responsible.”

Sunday’s decree restricts anyone from leaving or entering designated red zones except for ”undeferrable work needs or emergency situations” starting Sunday through at least April 3, according to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

It applies to some 10 million residents in Lombardy and another 6 million in provinces throughout the country, including Venice, Parma and Modena.

Residents everywhere were instructed to avoid public gatherings. Cinemas, theaters, dance schools, bingo halls and pubs will also be closed. Restaurants will be allowed to remain open only if they can keep a 1 meter distance among customers.

Source: NBC News