The Italian government is planning to quarantine the entire Lombardy region around Milan to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

According to Italian media reports, areas around and including Venice and the northern cities of Parma and Rimini will also be subject to the restrictions 

A draft of the government resolution obtained by Italy's Corriere Della Sera newspaper and other media said movement into and out of the regions would be severely restricted until 3 April.

Milan is the Italian financial capital and has a population of just under 1.4 million people. All museums, cultural centres, and ski resorts will be shut in the targeted areas.

The government degree said people in the quarantine zones would be advised to stay at home as much as possible. It shuts down all night clubs as well as gyms and swimming pools. Bars and restaurants will remain open but must ensure that everyone is seated at least a metre apart.

It stresses that entry into and out of the new quarantine zones would only be allowed for "serious reasons".

Until now, Italy had quarantined 11 villages with a combined population of 50,000 people in the Lombardy region and parts of the area around Venice.

The month-long ban on entry to places such as Venice could deliver a crippling blow to the city's already-struggling tourism industry.

There was no immediate word on whether the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan would remain open.

"I cannot fail to stress that the draft decree of the prime minister is - to say the least - messed up," Lombardy region president Attilio Fontan was quoted as saying by Italy's Sky TG24 rolling news channel.

The draft decree says that those who violate the restrictions could be punished by fines and jailed for up to three months.

The entire Lombardy region is home to 10 million.

The government decree also covers parts of the Veneto region around Venice as well as Emilia-Romagna's Parma and Rimini.

Those three cities have a combine population of around 540,000 people.

It was not immediately clear from either the decree or the media reports as to when the measure would go into effect.

Corriere Della Sera said it was "imminent".

The move comes as Italy's death toll from Covid-19 rose by 36 to 233 on Saturday while the number of infections shot up by a single-day record of 1,247 to hit 5,883.

Italy has recorded the most deaths of any country outside China and the third-most Covid-19 infections after China and South Korea.

Official figures showed the number of people receiving intensive care in hospitals jumped to 567 from 462 on Friday.

All 22 Italian regions have now registered cases and one new death was reported Friday in the Lazio region that includes Rome and its outskirts.

The southeastern region of Puglia around the city of Bari recorded its second death on Saturday.

Italy's civil protection service also revealed that the northern Lombardy region around Milan that has seen well over half of all infections had started "experiencing difficulties with the (number of) beds available in hospitals".

"We have beds available in other regions to help Lombardy," civil protection service chief Angelo Berrelli told reporters.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis's Angelus prayer on Sunday will be livestreamed in a break with centuries-old tradition, the Vatican announced, as the number coronavirus cases topped 100,000.

The Angelus prayers - normally delivered by the pontiff from his window  - will "be broadcast via livestream by Vatican News and on screens in Saint Peter's Square," the Vatican said.

The Vatican, which has reported its first coronavirus case, had promised to review the 83-year-old pontiff's schedule "to avoid the dissemination" of the new Covid-19 disease.

The accelerating spread of the illness emptied Italian train stations and turned usually thronged parts of Rome into a ghost town.

Many of the city's outdoor restaurants and cafes were either closed on Friday night or had free tables overseen by forlorn staff with little to do but chat.

The street that runs from Rome's Colosseum along the Forum was deserted and the magnificent ruins stood in their natural splendour - without being swarmed by tourists - on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

"The situation here in Rome really is catastrophic," city guide Francesca Sposito told AFP outside the Colosseum.

"I think the newspapers have really exaggerated things and scared people away."