In Pictures: Northern Italy under quarantine to contain spread of coronavirus
Italy is the hardest hit country in the Euprope by the coronavirus outbreak. The latest total of cases stood at 5,883 with 233 deaths. This has forced the government to take a drastic step -- putting over 16 million people under quarantine.
In an unprecedented step, the Italian government has ordered a virtual lockdown of the wealthy northern region to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The measure, signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, aims to limit gatherings and curb movement. It will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until April 3.
The order prevents people from entering or leaving Lombardy, Italy's richest region, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.
Nobody would be allowed to move in or out of these areas, or within them, unless they had proven, work-related reasons for doing so, or health issues.
"We are facing a national emergency. We chose from the beginning to take the line of truth and transparency and now we’re moving with lucidity and courage, with firmness and determination," Prime Minister Conte told reporters in the middle of the night.
On Saturday, health officials had expressed alarm at the apparent lack of concern in the general public, as fine weekend weather attracted large crowds to the ski slopes outside Milan. But streets were notably quieter than normal as northern cities woke up to the news on Sunday.
(With inputs from Reuters)