Culture & Society Czech Republic News Politics & International

Coronavirus: Czech Republic warns against travel to Italy as fear of pandemic looms

Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Foreign Ministry issued a travel alert on Monday, advising Czechs to avoid traveling to regions in northern Italy where outbreaks of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have occurred, particularly in Lombardy and Veneto.

“We recommend that you keep an eye on current information before traveling to the above-mentioned regions, as temporary measures disrupting road and train traffic may occur,” said the travel alert.

In the meantime, the Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech is going to convoke the national epidemiological commission on Thursday over the situation. The Ministry of Education has also asked schools to follow its coronavirus-related instructions and not to travel to northern Italy, where school excursions and skiing trips are often held.

Airlines to Italy are still in operation.

The largest number of confirmed cases in Europe

Italy is badly affected by the viral outbreak, with the largest number of confirmed cases in Europe. The Italian government has adopted a series of drastic measures over the weekend to try to contain the outbreak, including the lockdown of towns in Lombardy and Veneto. For the next two weeks, 50,000 residents will not be able to leave without special permission.

The last two days of events at the Venice Carnival were also canceled on Sunday.

Despite signs the virus is spreading, with new cases reported on Tuesday in Tuscany and Sicily, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte insisted that his country remained safe for travel and tourism.

In Poland, while Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that “all agencies are ready, equipped with know-how, materials and procedures in case the coronavirus appears in Poland,” a number of doctors have warned that preparations are still seriously lacking, including shortages of vital equipment such as face masks and other protective gear.

The world should prepare for a possible pandemic

Global cases of the virus have passed 80,000, the vast majority in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic – a situation where an infectious disease spreads easily between people in many countries. The Czech Republic has banned direct flights to and from China.

The virus spreads through human-to-human contact. It’s important to wash the hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or warm water and soap.

Many of those who contract coronavirus will experience only mild symptoms and most people are expected to make a full recovery, reports the BBC. However, it can pose a particular risk for elderly people and those with pre-existing problems such as diabetes or cancer, or weak immune systems.

Meanwhile, while the Czech Republic for now hasn’t reported any confirmed cases of coronavirus, the country is being hit by a flu epidemic, as reported by the Czech Hygiene Office.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.