Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said that nationwide quarantine measures imposed three weeks ago to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended as the country needs more time to combat the outbreak.

“Today, we are still the center of this crisis. You cannot reduce alertness; you cannot create illusions. The measures expire on April 3 and I can say that they will definitely be extended,” Speranza said during an appearance on Italy’s Rai 2 broadcaster on Sunday evening.

The minister added that it would be a mistake if the government lifted restrictions while the numbers of new cases and deaths from the disease continue to rise. He added that the government will meet later on Monday to discuss the quarantine measures.

“We still have to make sacrifices. We need even more time,” the minister stated.

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Italy has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. As of Sunday, the country has confirmed over 97,000 cases of the disease, resulting in more than 10,700 deaths. A total of 3,815 new cases of the disease and 756 deaths were confirmed in the preceding 24 hours.