South Korea has been in the news a lot and now has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of China. But did you know that Italy has the highest number of cases outside of Asia?
What’s happening in Italy?
- From “less than 5 known cases on Thursday”, there were more than 150 cases in Italy as of Sunday 23 Feb.
- The Venice Carnival has been shut down early.
- The virus has affected towns in Lombardy and Veneto: “Residents were supposed to leave or enter the towns only with special permission, affecting at least 50,000 people and by Sunday night, police officers in surgical masks were waving down cars,” says the New York Times.
- Other reports say those 50,000 residents have now been told to stay home.
- Rail passengers travelling from Italy to Austria on Sunday were tested for coronavirus after two people showed “fever” symptoms, and trains were suspended for a few hours. Everyone was given an OK and trains resumed.
- Sky News reports that that Austria is now considering implementing border controls with Italy.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not issued advice against travel to Italy, but it’s important to check that any planned travel (i.e. your route, destination or potential detours along the way) are not in the affected regions.
So far these affected towns are not popular travel destinations, but one of the towns is relatively close to Milan.
The South Korea Situation
- The FCO has issued advice against all but essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo – the cities primarily affected in South Korea.
- South Korea has made these “special care zones”
- There were 763 confirmed cases as of Sunday 23 Feb
- South Korea has put almost 8,000 military troops into quarantine
There is no advice against travel to other parts of South Korea at this time, but please be aware that some governments are now refusing entry to foreign nationals who have recently visited any part of South Korea. Similar restrictions are in place in some cases for those who have visited Japan and other affected countries.
Cases have now been confirmed in Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Lebanon, but Iran is raising more concerns as a pilgrimage city appears to be the centre of some transmission of the virus.
47 diagnoses of coronavirus have been confirmed in Iran, according to The Guardian, but other media have speculated that the count could be higher.
In the UK, the total number of infections remains at 13 – including the four people who were diagnosed after they returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Although the chances of encountering someone carrying the virus while travelling within the UK are relatively low, we should all still follow hygiene recommendations – wash hands regularly, use hand sanitizer gel if soap and water aren’t available, and avoid touching our eyes, nose or mouth when we have been in contact with tables, seats, handrails and other items in public spaces.
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