Italian government closes schools for two weeks as the Coronavirus spreads

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BANGKOK (AP) – The Latest on the virus outbreak (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

Italian media say the Italian government has ordered schools nationwide to close for the next two weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but the country’s education minister says a final decision on the closure not yet been confirmed.

State-run RAI, the ANSA and LaPresse news agencies reported Wednesday that Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had agreed on the closure during a cabinet meeting. But Education Minister Lucia Azzolina told reporters that nothing is final yet.

Italy has seen its virus caseload explode since the first positive test was registered in northern Lombardy on Feb. 19. Since then, more than 2,500 people in Italy have tested positive, and 79 have died. Italy is the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.

In the early days of the outbreak, officials closed schools in Lombardy and Veneto, the two hardest-hit regions. Over the weekend, they closed schools in Emilia Romagna.

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