Italy Closes Schools Nationwide Over COVID-19

March 5, 2020

School and university activities throughout Italy will be suspended from March 5 to March 15 due to the novel coronavirus.

This is a developing story and updates will be provided as information becomes available.

The Italian Minister of Education, Lucia Azzolina, announced at a press conference today that school and university activities throughout Italy will be suspended from March 5 to March 15 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thus far, 107 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy. There have been 3089 cases. Schools in some affected regions had already closed, but the decision has now been made to suspend attendance nationwide.

"I pledge that essential public service, albeit remotely, will be provided to all students," Azzolina said.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte explained the decision as based on consultation with the country’s Technical Scientific Committee on the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

“The health system risks going into overload, and we will have a problem with intensive care if an exponential crisis continues,” Conte said.

People over the age of 65 have been advised to stay home throughout the country as well. Several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions have been under quarantine for about 2 weeks.

COVID-19 has become a global phenomenon, reflecting the frequency of international travel and trade in the contemporary world. While transmission may be on the verge of decline in China, countries like Italy and Iran appear to be facing the beginnings of their own public health challenges.

In the United States, the risk to Americans remains low, but health officials have made preparations for more widespread local transmission.

Preparations are also underway in various African countries. A recent study modeled the relative risk of COVID-19 importations for different African countries, finding that those with the highest risk also have the most robust public health systems capable of meeting the challenge. However, there are countries at medium risk that presently have low levels of preparedness, study authors told Contagion®.

To track the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and abroad, visit the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.