Authorities in Kosovo have canceled all flights into the country from Monday, March 16, according to diplomatic sources while all departing flights are expected to be severely disrupted due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The decision follows after health officials confirmed Kosovo's first cases of COVID-19 on Friday, March 14. Two of the three infected individuals had recently traveled to Italy, while the third patient is one of their relatives. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
On Wednesday, March 11, authorities suspended all schools and public gatherings until March 27. Public transport remains restricted, and border crossing points via land remain closed to non-Kosovo citizens. Non-essential businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, and shopping centers also remain close. Food stores and pharmacies are still operating. Further business disruptions are expected in 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 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.
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.
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