Authorities announced on Sunday, March 15, that they will close the borders with Albania and North Macedonia via air, land, and sea, in addition to suspending flights to and from Spain to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Only cargo and Greek citizens will be allowed to travel to and from Albania or North Macedonia. The government also extended travel restrictions to Italy by banning cruise vessels and passenger ships to and from the country, after it banned flights to and from Italy from March 14-29. In addition to the ongoing limitations on public gatherings, and the closure all most non-essential businesses, authorities announced that they will implement entry checks at supermarkets from Monday, March 16, to prevent overcrowding. Schools are slated to be closed at least until Wednesday, March 25.
As of March 15, Ministry of Health officials have confirmed over 331 cases of COVID-19 and four associated deaths. Further international spread of COVID-19 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 trouble 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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.