BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Italian government is moving to close all schools and universities across the country as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said on Wednesday morning that despite local media outlets confirming the closures, the final decision will be made "in the next few hours."
The announcement that all Italian students could be told to stay at home for at least two weeks comes after a recent spike in cases and deaths from the virus.
On Tuesday March 3, the Italian government confirmed 466 new cases and 27 new deaths. By Wednesday March 4, two new cases had been confirmed in northern Italy.
Earlier this week, two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Rhode Island. Both patients had been on a trip to Italy organized by Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket.
France has also closed about 120 schools in areas around Paris with the largest numbers of infections.
Italy has seen the numbers of coronavirus cases explode since it was first registered in the northern town of Lombardy on February 19.
As of Wednesday morning, Italy had confirmed more than 2,500 diagnoses cases of the virus, and 79 deaths, which is the third highest in the world behind China (2,981 deaths) and Iran (92 deaths.)