easyJet cancels UK flights to Italy after Lombardy is put into lockdown

Covid-19

On Monday 9 March, British low-cost airline easyJet cancelled a number of UK flights to Italy following the Italian Government instating a number of additional travel restrictions in the hope to minimise the outbreak of the coronavirus

The airline asserted that affected passengers would be informed of cancellations by email and text message and would be offered a full refund or a change of flight.

easyJet is also reviewing its flying programme to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona until 3 April.

British holidays with pre-planned trips to the Lombardy region found themselves in a state of confusion Sunday (8 March) after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) failed to immediately update its advice to warn against ‘all but essential’ travel to the whole Lombardy region. And to make matters more confusing, some budget airlines were advertising extremely cheap return flights to Milan, even after the FCO’s updated advice was published. Many holidaymakers were left unsure as to whether they could claim compensation from their insurance companies if they wanted to cancel.

Italy

While the UK currently has nearly 260 active cases of Covid-19, with three related deaths, Italy continues to be the worst affected country in the European Union (EU), with around 6,300 active cases and 366 deaths.

In an update from Argos Assistance, an Italy-based firm proving medical, technical and legal assistance to the insurance industry, the team announced that due to the new regulations imposed by the Italian Government aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 (which extended the ‘red zone’ to include 26 provinces in Lombardia, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Veneto and Piemonte), all house call visits to the provinces would be suspended.

Argos Assistance added that teleconsultations would be carried out and that, in the case of symptoms compatible with a suspected case (fever, respiratory symptoms, cough, asthenia, general malaise, weight loss, anorexia, dizziness, confusion, mullet, vomit and diarrhoea), the patients would be monitored by the team’s medical desk for three days, in addition to informing the necessary authorities and requiring the patient to self-isolate.

“In all the other Italian provinces, a mandatory teleconsultation will be carried out to define the methods for providing the subsequent assistance steps,” the organisation said, adding that the Milan office would be operating as always via a mandatory smart-working policy, allowing employees to work remotely.

The EU

Elsewhere, Spain has witnessed an additional 285 cases and eight new deaths, bringing the number of active cases in the country to over 900, with 25 deaths in total. Meanwhile, France and Germany rank as the second and third worst-affected countries in Europe: France now has over 1,170 active cases and 19 deaths; and Germany has over 1,130 active cases (an additional 111 were reported in the last 24 hours).

Indeed, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday: “[Covid-19] has been in Germany since Wednesday last week. Our priority now is to slow its spread. The slower the virus spreads, the better the healthcare system can cope. Consider also what in your daily life is so important that you can’t do without it for the next three months, whether that’s an evening clubbing, a family birthday or a club meeting.”

Over in Tenerife, where numerous guests were quarantined at a hotel after a visiting doctor tested positive for the coronavirus, the British citizen who was hospitalised in Tenerife is to be discharged after twice testing negative for the virus. In addition, another close contact of the group of five Italians who remain isolated in a Tenerife hospital with Covid-19 tested positive for the virus.

The worst-hit areas

Cases in South Korea, as in China, are now beginning to dwindle. Despite active case numbers now sitting at around 7,250, Vice-Health Minister Kim Ganglip said in a daily briefing that the spread of Covid-19 is showing signs of a slowdown, but the number of sporadic cases outside Daegu and North Gyeongsang is growing.

Kim added that South Korea will continue to step up efforts to halt the local transmission of the virus, while containing the importation of infections. However, he also added that the Korean government has no plans to bring its citizens back from Italy to Korea via a charter plane because of Italy's advanced medical system.

On the other hand, as the total number of confirmed cases in Iran surpasses 7,000, an official at South Korea's foreign ministry said the government does plan to bring home citizens from there via a charter flight this week.

US

Over in the US, there are now at least 500 active cases of the virus, with 22 deaths. California, New York, Oregon and Washington State have all declared emergencies, and Wall Street is preparing for a plunge in global stocks.

Public school districts in several states have shut down, universities are moving classes online and cancelling large gatherings, companies are telling many employees to work from home, and houses of worship are limiting services. A global health conference in Orlando, planned for Monday, with President Donald Trump as a speaker, has been called off.

The situation on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is currently being held off the coast of California and is due to dock in Oakland on Monday, is looking very hairy indeed. Carrying 3,500 passengers and crew, at least 21 people onboard have now tested positive for the virus and one person has died. After the ship docks, the crew will stay on board to be quarantined while everyone else will be taken to military facilities around the country to be tested and quarantined for 14 days, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The UK Foreign Office has announced it is ‘working intensively’ to secure a repatriation flight for Britons stuck on the ship.

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview that the US was not yet at the same point as Italy: “I don’t think you want to have folks shutting down cities like in northern Italy — we are not at that level.” However, he did note that the US may have reached the point where it can no longer be completely contained by isolating the sick and quarantining their contacts. “Don’t go to crowded places, think twice before a long plane trip, and for goodness’ sake, don’t go on any cruises,” he advised. “Don’t wait for community spread. Now is the time to do social distancing, whether there is spread in your community or not.”

At the time of writing, there have been over 111,300 total confirmed cases of Covid-19 around the world. This includes 3,892 deaths and over 62,370 recoveries.