Italy, famous for food, fashion, and wine, is now becoming known as the European leader and runner-up globally in the number of coronavirus or COVID-19, cases. The disease originated in China and has spread to the boot-shaped country with a vengeance.

The Italian government is reacting by shutting down schools for two weeks, thought to be the incubation period of the virus, in the hopes of stemming the outbreak.

According to the latest numbers, the death toll in Italy touched 107 and total confirmed cases are at 3,089 as of 7:15 a.m. UTC.

The school shutdown is an expansion of measures already in place in northern Italy and will affect about 8.7 million students. The government is also banning fans from sporting events and even some fashion shows. At present, the schools will remain closed until March 15.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, in a statement released Wednesday, said, “It is a prudent decision to contain the virus because we have a health-care system at risk of being overloaded.”

Other European countries will likely follow suit assuming that the virus will not suddenly go on a retreat or disappear. The Guardian reports that France has shut down schools in areas where the virus has been confirmed. This is far short of measures in place in Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, and of course China, where schools are now closed in lieu of online education.

One theory of why Italy is being hit so hard by COVID-19 was put forth by Massimo Galli, the director of infectious diseases at Sacco hospital in Milan. He told Guardian, “Italy is a country of old people. The elderly with previous pathologies are notoriously numerous here. I think this could explain why we are seeing more serious cases of coronavirus here, which I repeat, in the vast majority of cases, start mildly and cause few problems, especially in young people and certainly in children.”

Giovanni Rezza, who leads the infectious-disease department at Italy’s National Health Institute, explained the justification for closing schools when the more serious cases occur with the elderly and those with other health issues. He told the Wall Street Journal, “Children could amplify the epidemic and carry the disease to their grandparents. Paradoxically, school closures help protect the elderly. “We need to avoid a big wave of cases.”

The “ripple effect” will be felt all over Italy but in particular by working parents who will need to stay home and tend to the needs of their offspring during normal school hours. One mother, Cristina Tagliabue, lamented to the New York Times, “It’s right to close schools, but that has a cost. The government could have done something for mothers as we are also in quarantine.”