VIAREGGIO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23: A group of partic
A group of participants in the Carnival of Viareggio wear a carnival mask that reads Carnevale Antivirus and a protective mask against the coronavirus on February 23, 2020 in Viareggio, Italy. Italy is the first country in Europe and the third largest in the world in the number of infections. At the moment there have been 3 deaths and 152 infections. Five regions are involved and the alarm is in northern Italy, where schools have been closed and there is a ban on removal from outbreak areas. Across Italy there is a stop to public events, including sports events. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
  • Five soccer matches in the Italian top flight are to be played behind closed doors this weekend as Italy continues its efforts to contain its coronavrius outbreak, according to ANSA.
  • Italy is the most infected country outside of Asia, with at least 229 cases and seven deaths having been confirmed.
  • Among the games effected is Juventus' clash with Inter Milan, which is being pegged as a potential title decider, with the two teams separated by just six points at the top of Serie A.
  • Four matches in Serie A were postponed last weekend due to outbreaks in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Five soccer matches in the Italian top flight will be played behind closed doors in empty stadiums this weekend in the country's latest attempt to contain its rampant coronavirus outbreak.

Italy is the most infected country outside of Asia, with at least 229 cases and seven deaths having been confirmed. A dozen towns, including Milan and Venice, have been placed on lockdown, with travel prevented in or out.

The Italian Football Federation says it sent an official request to the government to close off the matches to the public in the impacted regions, which, according to ANSA, has now been approved.

Amongst the games that will be played behind closed doors is the clash between league leaders Juventus and Inter Milan on Sunday. The fixture is being pegged as a potential title decider, with the two clubs placed just six points apart at the top of the Serie A table.

Juventus is currently first and Inter are third, though Antonio Conte's side have a game in hand and a superior goal difference, meaning a win over Juventus would place it in poll position in the race for the league title.

Udinese against Fiorentina, AC Milan against Genoa, Parma against SPAL, and Sassuolo against Brescia are the four other games to be closed off to spectators, while Inter's Europa League match against Ludogrets on Wednesday is also to be played in an empty stadium, according to the Bulgarian club's official website.

Four matches in Serie A were postponed last weekend due to the COVID-19 outbreaks in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont, while a number of fixtures in Serie B and Serie C were also delayed. It is currently unclear when they will be rescheduled.

"On orders from the Italian Government three matches (Atalanta - Sassuolo, Hellas Verona - Cagliari, Inter - Sampdoria and Torino - Parma) have been suspended following the measures adopted to fight and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion," a statement from Serie A read.

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