Italy closing all schools nationwide until March 15 to contain coronavirus outbreak

The government of Italy announced on Wednesday new steps to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, including the closure of public schools and universities for 11 days, according to Sky News and The Guardian.

Lucia Azzolina, Italy’s minister of education, said schools will close from March 5 until March 15 while the nation attempts to grapple with the ongoing outbreak. At least 2,502 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country and 79 people have died.

Italy also plans to take additional steps to further limit the spread of the virus. According to Reuters, the government has called for the cancellation of any event that requires the “concentration of people” that does not allow for more than about a yard of space between individuals.

According to a previous Reuters report, some Italian schools had already been closed in certain regions that have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Schools had adapted new online tools to help keep classes going remotely, though it’s unclear if that will continue on a country-wide basis following the announcement Wednesday.

There is no national system of online education, according to the Reuters report.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced every school in would close for at least a month. In China, all schools are closed until the coronavirus is no longer a public health emergency. About 180 million children in China are learning from home, taking classes online, or watching primary-school classes on TV.

The vast majority of the coronavirus cases have been reported in China. As of Wednesday, more than 94,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and 3,200 people have died worldwide.

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