Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has signed a degree that puts the Milan region and several other northern areas on lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The decree extends the red zone declared in Northern Italy to include Lombardy and several other provinces, beginning on Sunday and lasting till 3 April. In the regions affected, public events, religious ceremonies, work meetings will be suspended; school, museums, swimming pools, and theaters will be closed. The decree also allows "sporting events and competitions" but behind closed doors.
In Europe, Italy is the country worst affected by the new virus, with at least 5,883 people infected.
COVID-19 was first registered in China's Hubei province last December and has since spread to more than 80 countries around the globe, with over 101,000 people infected so far, according to the latest data provided by the WHO.
China's response to the coronavirus has been swift and sweeping. Clinical trials of a vaccine against COVID-19 in China will most likely begin in late April, Chinese vice-minister for science and technology Xu Nanping said in late February.