Italy’s coronavirus death toll has soared to 366, with 133 deaths in just one, officials say.
According to the Civil Protection agency, the total number of infections leapt 25% to 7,375 from 5,883.
The jump in figures comes as millions adapt to radical measures introduced on March 8 in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
Under new quarantine rules, up to 16 million people in Lombardy and 14 provinces need special permission to travel.
PM Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country.
The restrictions will last until April 3.
The latest figures mean Italy now has the highest number of confirmed infections outside China, where the outbreak originated in December. The outbreak has overtaken South Korea, where the total number of cases is 7,313.
Among the latest people to test positive in Italy is the army’s chief of staff. Salvatore Farina said he felt well and was self-isolating.
The strict new quarantine measures affect a quarter of the Italian population and center on the rich northern part of the country that powers its economy.
The health system is under immense strain in Lombardy, a northern region of 10 million people, where people are being treated in hospital corridors.
Prime Minister Conte said as he announced the measures on March 8: “We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big.”
Under the new measures, people are not supposed to be able to enter or leave Lombardy, where Milan is the main city.
The same restrictions apply to 14 provinces: Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.
Some transport in and out of the regions affected continued on March 8. Flights still arrived at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate airports, though some scheduled flights were canceled.
However, Italy’s national carrier Alitalia said it would suspend all operations from Malpensa from March 9 and Linate would only serve domestic routes. International flights would continue to and from Rome. The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Italy for making “genuine sacrifices” with the restrictions. Until March 8 only about 50,000 people in northern Italy had been affected by quarantines.
Last week the Italian government announced the closure of all schools and universities across the country for 10 days.
The number of infections worldwide is more than 107,000, with about 3,600 deaths.
Most of the fatalities have been in China. However, the country reported on March 8 its lowest number of new infections in a single day since January – an indication that the virus’s spread there is slowing.
Iran, one of the worst hotspots outside China, has now confirmed 6,566 infections and 194 deaths.
However, the real figure is feared to be much higher. One report on March 8, quoting a government envoy, said there had been 200 deaths in the northern Gilan province alone – but the figures were later removed.