All commercial flights to and from Tirana Airport, Albania's only airport, will be suspended starting on Sunday, March 29, due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Albanian government suspended most flights on Tuesday, March 10, but Air Albania was operating a daily flight from Istanbul (Turkey) through Saturday, March 28. Officials did not immediately announce how long the measures will remain in place.
A 16-hour curfew is currently in place nationwide; individuals are only permitted to shop and go to work from 05:00 to 13:00 (local time), after which security forces will enforce the curfew. Emergencies are exempt from these measures.
Albania's land borders have been closed and all schools, universities, bars, churches, restaurants, and gyms have been temporarily closed. Supermarkets and pharmacies remain open, though some may have modified operating hours. Large public gatherings, including cultural and sporting events, have been canceled.
To date, there have been more than 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Albania, including ten associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.