Russia's national carrier, Aeroflot, announced on Wednesday, March 11, that it will suspend flights to and from Moscow for some cities in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy from Friday, March 13, through Thursday, April 30, amid the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected cities include:
- Spain: Alicante, Valencia, Malaga, Tenerife, and Palma de Mallorca
- France: Marseille, Lyon, and Nice
- Germany: Dresden, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, and Stuttgart
- Italy: Milan, Venice, Naples, Verona, and Bologna
The airline also confirmed that flights to and from St. Petersburg from Nice (France), and Dusseldorf and Hamburg (Germany) will also be suspended during the same period.
Aeroflot previously announced flight disruptions on its routes to and from Iran, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Italy effective Tuesday, March 10. Between March 10-28, Aeroflot has canceled some of its flights to Rome and Milan, while reducing flights to South Korea between March 10-26, and to Vietnam between March 11-27. The airline began reducing flights to Tehran (Iran) from Sunday, March 8, to operate every Sunday only until further notice. Flights to and from Hong Kong remain suspended since March 8. Further flight disruptions, including cancelations and schedule changes, are anticipated in the coming days and weeks.
The Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, previously announced on Friday, March 6, that all Russian nationals returning from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry to Russia. All individuals arriving to any port of entry in Russia will be temperature screened; those with an elevated temperature will be tested for the virus and either taken to a designated facility or be required to undergo medical observation at their home.
Mayor Sobyanin announced on March 11 that all events in the capital with more than 5000 participants are banned until Friday, April 10, to limit the spread of COVID-19. The decree includes sporting and cultural events such as the Crimean Spring festival scheduled between March 16-18, and the celebration of the annexation of Crimea originally scheduled on March 15.
As of March 11, there are 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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 COVID-19 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 non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.