The only thing we have to fear is fear itself; Coronavirus in Puglia

Today, March 4th, is the anniversary of the first inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt whose speech after taking the oath famously included his best known quote, which is worth remembering today.

“...The only thing we have to fear is...fear itself...”.

Word on the street

In Puglia life continues with the coronavirus little more than a topic of conversation in passing, notwithstanding the 6 confirmed cases in the region.

The stats, as reported in today’s Italian and international press:

Although Italy has reported a 50% rise in deaths linked to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours - the virus has killed 79 people in Italy an increase of 27 - points to note are:

1. The deaths occurred in people all aged between 63 and 95 with underlying serious illnesses.

2. The majority of cases of coronavirus are in the Lombardy region in the north of Italy: 1,520 of Italy’s confirmed 2,263 cases.

The virus has spread to all other regions in Italy with the exception of the Aosta Valley who have no reported cases at this time.

Compared with other European countries Italy is testing aggressively. Press are reporting that there have been 25,856 swab tests carried out, including the Pope who had been suffering a cold. It was reported yesterday that his test was negative.

The current stats are:

1,326 cases in Lombardy
398 in Emilia Romagna
297 in Veneto
59 in Marche
56 in Piedmont
30 in Campania
19 in Liguria
18 in Tuscany
11 in Lazio
13 in Friuli Venezia Giulia
8 in Umbria
6 in Puglia
6 in Abruzzo
5 in Sicily
4 in Trentino
3 in Molise
1 in each of Bolzano, Calabria, Sardinia and Basilicata.

Containment

Measures have now been implemented by the Italian Government currently until March 8th that divides Italy into 3 zones determined by the severity of cases.

These are:

THE RED ZONE: in Lombardy the municipalities of Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione D'Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini; in Veneto the municipality of ,

THE YELLOW ZONE: Emilia Romagna, the rest of Lombardy, Veneto, the provinces of Pesaro and Urbino, Savona,

and THE REST OF ITALY, which includes Puglia.

The current virus containment measures implemented (which apply until 8 March) depend on zoning. For example the red zone has a restriction on entering and leaving. Schools, museums and other cultural institutions are closed. There are restrictions on businesses and public transport is suspended.

In the yellow zone sporting events taking place in public have been suspended (fans cannot travel but “closed” competitions can still take place). Cultural, recreational and religious events are suspended. Cinema’s theatres and clubs are closed. Church doors are still open but no “gatherings” are permitted. Schools are closed. Museums can open but only with quotas in operation restricting the numbers of visitors at any time. Bars and restaurants remain open but customers must be seated and remain 1 metre apart.

In the rest of the country - which includes Puglia - prevention measures which focus on sanitisation are in place. Anyone who has returned from China of the Italian red zone since February 14 must provide notice to their local health authority. All educational trips have been suspended.

Reported advice to travellers and practical matters

(As summarised from media reports and information in the public domain - this does not constitute advice):

The UK Government's travel advice warns against all but essential travel to the 10 towns that have been isolated due to the outbreak.

“The FCO [the Foreign and Commonwealth Office] advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo), which have been isolated by the Italian authorities due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19)."

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have raised the warning to Level 3, recommending all but non-essential to Italy.

If you are due to fly to one of the affected regions that are within the red zone, airlines might now offer to change your flights free of charge, BUT because the UK Government’s advice only concerns specific towns and not airports, airlines are not obliged to.

Regions that are deemed safe to travel to will not be affected by the UK Government’s advice, with airlines unlikely to allow you to change your flights without a fee.

British Airways are allowing passengers to delay their travel, and have cancelled a number of flights to Milan due to a drop in demand.

A statement issued on social media confirmed: "Anyone travelling to Northern Italy and from 25 February-02 March can delay their travel anywhere up to 31 March”.

Ryanair is cancelling up to 25 per cent of its Italian short haul flights between March 17 and April 8.

Wizz Air has cancelled all flights between London Luton to Bari between March 11 and April 2.

easyJet said they would also be cancelling a number of flights to Italy due to "softening of demand".

However reports indicate that passengers who have already booked flights to Italy with easyJet and Ryanair are not currently able to cancel or change their flights without additional charges, even although the airlines have both cut routes due to a lack of demand.

Delta and American Airlines has suspended flights to Milan from the US until next month while reports indicate that United Airlines allows travellers to move their flights for free until the end of April if travelling to Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Trieste, Turin, Venice and Verona.

Please check with your own airlines, and check your rights. This post does not offer advice on what your rights are. It summarises the position as we understand it from information in the public domain.

***This purpose of this post is to provide helpful information in relation to the current coronavirus situation. No advice is given about travelling (or not) in the current climate and you should refer to the information and safety advice given by your national government for travellers generally and with particular reference to Italy.***

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