A customer drinks coffee at a bar in Messina, Sicily, on March 10, 2020 as Italy imposes unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people to control the coronavirus [Giovanni Isolino/AFP]

Sicily, Italy – The usually bustling entrance hall of the Department of Agriculture Food and Environment at the University of Catania, Sicily, is deserted.

“All academic activities are temporarily suspended”, says a sign hanging on the main gate.

Since three professors tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a university conference in northern Italy on March 2, the department became one of the first in the country to cancel classes. 

The professors went into self-isolation and none experienced any more serious symptoms.

Weeks later, the entire country is now in a state

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