Italy to close all schools and universities amid coronavirus surge

Italy announced Wednesday it will temporarily close all its schools and universities as the country continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus infections, according to new reports.

Those closures will begin Thursday and last until mid-March, CNBC reported.

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Italian officials also said they may set up a new quarantine area, or “red zone,” in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

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Tourits wearing face masks take pictures inside the Duomo gothic cathedral as it reopened to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak in northern Italy, in Milan, Monday, March 2, 2020. 

Tourits wearing face masks take pictures inside the Duomo gothic cathedral as it reopened to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak in northern Italy, in Milan, Monday, March 2, 2020.  (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

“None of us can be sure about the future evolution of the disease,” Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s Civil Protection Agency, said at a Tuesday news conference. “This is an important week to understand what will happen.”

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Red zones have already been set up in Lombardy and Veneto, where 11 towns are quarantined and inhabitants are prohibited from leaving.

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Hospitals, particularly those in northern Italy, are struggling to carry the weight of those infected. An ambulance driver in an existing “red zone” told La Repubblica newspaper that “hours [will be] decisive” and “if the infection spreads it will be hard.”