COVID-19: Italy places Milan, Venice under lockdown

Schneyder MENDOZA / AFP

The Italian government has placed the entire Lombardy region in the north under lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement came after Italy saw the number of coronavirus infections increase by more than 1,200 in the past 24 hours, totalling to 5,883.

As many as 589 have fully recovered, officials informed, adding that 233 deaths have been registered so far.

People have been ordered not to enter or leave Lombardy,  which includes the cities of Venice, Milan, Parma and Modena, with all schools and universities closed until at least April 3. 

All museums, gyms, cultural centres, ski resorts and swimming pools will also be shut down in the targeted areas, with violators set to face criminal charges.

"We want to protect the health of all citizens," Prime Minister Giuseppe 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."

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