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10 Mar 2020 | 04:56 PM UTC

UK: British Airways temporarily cancels flights to/from Italy over COVID-19 outbreak March 10 /update 1

United Kingdom News Alert

British Airways temporarily cancels flights to and from Italy over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as of March 10; booked travel to or from Italy up to April 4 available for refund, rebooking

TIMEFRAME expected from 2/28/2020, 12:00 AM until 4/4/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/London). COUNTRY/REGION United Kingdom

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British Airways has temporarily canceled its flights to and from Italy over concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as of Tuesday, March 10. The airline has offered individuals who have booked travel between London and Italy up to April 4 to refund their ticket or rebook onto another flight for later travel. 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. Notably, also on Monday, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all nonessential travel to Italy but indicated that British nationals would be able to depart Italy "without restriction." As of Tuesday, over 9100 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Italy, as well as over 460 associated deaths. In the UK, over 373 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, as well as six 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 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 general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue; throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their 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 avoid potential spread of the disease.


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