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Italy government to extend lockdown measures until Easter - health minister

FILE PHOTO: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza speaks to reporters after European health ministers from neighbouring countries to Italy held a meeting to discuss Italy's coronavirus outbreak, in Rome, Italy, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government on Monday said it would extend a lockdown to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus outbreak at least until Easter, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

“Our evaluation is that all containment measures should be extended at least until Easter (April 12). The government will move in this direction,” the health minister said after a meeting with the scientific committee.

Italians have been under lockdown for three weeks and the restrictions were due to end on Friday.

Italy, the world’s hardest hit country which accounts for more than a third of all global fatalities, saw its total death tally rise to 11,591 since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on Feb. 21.

Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama