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Italy expands travel restrictions to entire country as coronavirus spreads

Italy's government on Monday announced it is expanding travel restrictions to the entire country amid growing fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made the announcement one day after Rome imposed similar restrictions in the north of the country.

The lockdown suggests Italian officials see clamping down on the movement of their 60 million-plus citizens as the best way to combat the spread of the virus, which has already claimed 463 lives in Italy.

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In order to travel internationally or to different regions within the country, travelers must indicate a need to work, have health conditions or provide other limited reasons, according to The Associated Press, which said the new rules will last until April 3.

“I’m about to take a measure that we can summarize with ‘I’m staying home,’ " Conte said, according to The Washington Post.

Schools will also remain closed until April 3.

The country moved from minor restrictions to this wide-ranging ban in a matter of days after first announcing movement restrictions on 11 small towns near the center of the outbreak in the country.

On Sunday, Conte said all areas near the virus's epicenter in the north would be locked down, impacting 16 million people.

Italy has the highest number of cases and deaths outside of China at more than 9,100 and 463, respectively, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, which says 724 people in the country have recovered from the disease.