Italian authorities are scrambling to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, shutting off the worst-affected towns and cancelling a string of public events.
As the number of those infected jumped above 100, the government passed stringent emergency measures late on Saturday, and officials cancelled the final two days of the Carnival in Venice.
The first two deaths from the disease were recorded in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
The number of certified cases of the illness in Lombardy rose to 89 from 54 a day earlier, while in Veneto some 24 people had come down with the virus, including two people in Venice, which is packed with tourists for the Carnival.
Health officials reported isolated cases in the neighbouring regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna, saying the total number of known infections in Italy is 132.
Almost a dozen towns in Lombardy and Veneto with a combined population of some 50,000 have effectively been placed under quarantine, with locals urged to stay home and special permission needed to enter or leave the designated areas.
Universities were shuttered across much of northern Italy until early March and four top flight Serie A soccer matches set for Sunday were postponed.
Lombardy, which is home to Italy's financial capital Milan, ordered all schools in the region to close, and said all public gatherings should be cancelled, including religious services. Museums and public libraries will also be shut.
Fashion designer Giorgio Armani has said his fashion show scheduled to take place in Milan on Sunday would go ahead in an empty theatre without any press or buyers present.
Health authorities are struggling to work out how the outbreak started.
The first cases were announced only on Friday and doctors do not know the source of the illness.
Initial suspicion in Lombardy fell on a businessman recently returned from China, the epicentre of the new virus, but he has tested negative.
In Veneto, doctors tested a group of eight Chinese visitors who had been to the town that was home to the first fatality, but again, they all tested negative.
Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia said it was important to find the source of the virus.
"We are (now) even more worried because if we cannot find 'patient zero' then it means the virus is even more ubiquitous than we thought," he said.