Credit: Sky News
Italian authorities say that 107 people have died and there have been a total of 3,089 infected with the COVID-19 virus, making it the worst-affected European nation.
Italy shuts all schools and universities in an effort to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus.
Only schools that are situated in the northern parts of Italy, where the coronavirus outbreak is most concentrated, had closed so far, but the wider shutdown will last until 15 March.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the shutdowns and went on to say that the country’s health service was at risk of becoming overwhelmed.
The Sports Minister for the country has said that all sports events will be played in empty stadiums with no fans until the 3rd of April, including Serie A football. Italy v England in the Six Nations rugby has now been postponed.
The outbreak is currently most concentrated on the Lombardy region around Milan, and neighbouring regions of Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
There have also been cases reported around other parts of the country, including 18 in Sicily and at least 20 people in Rome’s Spallanzani infectious diseases hospital.
Museums, cinemas and other public places are also being closed as a result of the outbreak and many events such as fashion shows and trade fairs will not be going ahead.
Italy’s national health institute has told people to keep at least a metre apart, to avoid hugging each other and to stay away from crowded places.
Italy’s huge tourist sector is likely to suffer significantly as holidaymakers cancel trips to the country.
An exhibition of the Renaissance artist Raphael, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of the artist and sold nearly 70,000 tickets, is also at risk of being cancelled.
Italy’s educational shutdown comes as more countries such as Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Morocco have now reported their first cases of the virus.