Aer Lingus announced on Tuesday, March 10, that it will suspend all flights to and from Italy starting Wednesday, March 11, until Friday, April 3, over concerns over the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The decision comes after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday, March 9, that travel restrictions would be imposed across Italy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, ordering citizens to stay at home and not move except for work and emergencies and banning all public gatherings until April 3.
Ryanair also announced on Monday that it will suspend all international flights to and from Italy starting at midnight (local time) on Friday, March 13. It will suspend domestic flights within Italy starting at midnight on Wednesday, March 11. Both measures will be in effect through midnight on Wednesday, April 8.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced on Monday that all Saint Patrick's Day parades and celebrations, including the annual festival that was scheduled to take place in Dublin from March 13-17, would be canceled to prevent further spread of COVID-19. To date, there have been 24 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland.
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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, 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.