ROME       -         Millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy early Sunday as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Twitter he had signed off on plans to strictly limit movement into and out of a large area including Venice and the financial capital Milan for nearly a month.

“#Coronavirus, the new decree is finally approved,” Conte wrote, confirming reports published by Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper and other media.  With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China. The total number of people infected with the virus worldwide has passed 100,000 while 3,500 have died across 95 nations and territories.

According to Corriere Della Sera, without a “serious” reason that cannot be postponed people will not be allowed to enter or leave the entire Lombardy region around Milan -- home to 10 million -- as well as areas around and including Venice and the cities of Parma and Rimini. Museums, nightclubs, gyms and casinos will be closed in these areas, the newspaper reported, adding that the measures would be in place until April 3.