Easter holiday plans of thousands of Brits are in tatters over Italy coronavirus crisis as holidaymakers abandon trips despite the government still saying it’s safe to visit
- Advice states people can still travel to Italy but despite coronavirus warnings
- All-but essential travel is advised against to ten small towns in Lombardy
- Customers can’t claim on travel insurance if they cancel their holidays
- Travel expert told MailOnline that families are watching and waiting for advice
British holidaymakers who have booked trips to Italy feel ‘torn’ on whether or not they should go on their trips and risk catching the coronavirus or stay home and lose their money.
New travel advice from the UK government has extended the coronavirus warning to the whole of the country.
Current advice states that people can still travel to Italy, but will need to self-isolate if they return with coronavirus symptoms.
It has however advised on all but essential travel to ten small towns in Lombardy which have been isolated by Italian authorities due to the Covid 19 outbreak.
This leaves many customers in limbo as they are not able to cancel and claim on travel insurance for their existing trips.
There are currently over 3,800 cases of the virus in Italy and schools and businesses have been put into lock down.
Travel expert Nicholas Cooper today told MailOnline that many families are watching and waiting as they prepare to go on their Italian breaks.
Tourist with protective face mask looks on in the Piazza San Marco in Venice this afternoon
A picture shows the deserted Piazza Duomo in Milan this week as Italy closed all schools and universities
British Airways (plane above) is offering customers the option to swap and change some of their flights
A woman is seen wearing a protective mask in Milan as just a few other tourists are seen around her
Mr Cooper, who is the head of market for Holiday Pirates said: ‘There are a lot of families who are watching the situation develop and are feeling a bit torn about what to do.
‘They are obviously really looking forward to going on holiday but are now really unsure about whether they can still go, or even whether they should’.
He said that many passengers had been left in a ‘grey area’ following the government advice.
Even people booked on trips to nearby Milan or Verona wont be able to cancel and neither will customers who are booked on trips to Tenerife.
The new virus, called COVID-19, is transmitted from person to person via droplets when an infected person breathes out, coughs or sneezes.
It can also spread via contaminated surfaces such as door handles or railings.
Coronavirus infections have a wide range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Mild cases can cause cold-like symptoms including a sore throat, headache, fever, cough or trouble breathing.
Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure and death.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Data from TravelSupermarket shows holiday searches for Italy are down, Venice is down -78 per cent and Rome down -75 per cent, year on year.
This is while managing director of Kirker Holidays, Ted Wake, said there is a risk of going abroad but there is also a risk of staying at home.
He told MailOnline today that many people travelling to Italy are getting the ‘red carpet treatment’ and being upgraded.
‘In terms of value for money there has never been a better time to go’.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended all but non-essential trips to Italy after it raised its level warning to Level 3.
Airlines are not obliged to change flights as government advice does not specify on airports.
British Airways had previously cancelled some flights to Milan and had offered swaps last month.
It has now waived the change fee for customers who book during the next two weeks to allow them to ‘book with confidence’.
Italian healthcare staff of the infectious diseases department of the Padova Hospital wear protective suits and face masks as they swab people waiting in line in front of a Civil Protection tent due to the Covid 19 Coronavirus outbreak in Padua
In addition it has rebooking policies in place for customers travelling to Hong Kong and cities across Northern Italy (Milan (Linate and Malpensa), Turin, Bologna, Venice, Bergamo and Verona) who want to delay their travel to a later date.
If the company cancels a flight it will offer them re-booking options or a full refund.
The Foreign Office state: ‘The FCO 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).’
People stand in Piazza di Spagna square, after the government decree to close schools, cinemas, and urge people to work from home and not stand closer than one metre to each other in Rome,
‘The government of Italy introduced extraordinary measures that allow regions to implement civil protection measures in response to coronavirus, including the isolation of the towns above.
‘These measures were extended on March 1 and include school closures and changes to sporting fixtures in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna, as well as in provinces closest to the outbreaks.’
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘People are understandably concerned about how their travel plans will be impacted by coronavirus, and a lack of clear and timely information has left many travellers confused about their options.
‘While the government has now updated its advice to cover the Italian locations that have experienced an outbreak, those travelling to nearby cities like Milan or Verona still won’t be able to cancel and claim on their travel insurance, nor will those travelling to Tenerife. However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may be able to cancel and claim on your travel insurance based on advice from your doctor.
‘With thousands of holidaymakers already worrying about whether to cancel upcoming holidays, the government must ensure it is reacting quickly to developments in the spread of the virus to avoid any further confusion for travellers.’
CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL TIPS
As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, health experts advise plane travelers to sit in a window seat, disinfect their table trays and window blinds, and warn that wearing a mask won’t prevent infection.
Officials say the best way to avoid catching the virus, which is spread through viral particles within mucus or saliva, is to keep your hands clean, disinfect your space, and avoid touching your face.
It is also advised that plane travelers choose a window seat to have less contact with potentially sick people.
‘Book a window seat, try not to move during the flight, stay hydrated and keep your hands away from your face,’ Vicki Stover Hertzberg, professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, said.
‘Book a window seat, try not to move during the flight, stay hydrated and keep your hands away from your face,’ a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, said
Hertzberg helped conduct a study that followed passengers and crew members on 10 three to five-hour flights during the flu season and found that passengers who sit in the window seats had less contact with ill people.
Wearing a mask on the plane may not prove helpful as the air in the aircraft is considered sterile because there are so few microorganisms at such a high altitude and the plane draws fresh air from the outside.
About 50 percent of the air in cabins is recirculated but it goes through sophisticated air filters similar to those used in surgical environments, before it’s its pushed back into the plane.
A problem with paper masks is that they don’t have a respirator to filter out infectious air articles.
That means passengers are more likely to catch the virus through direct contact from someone with the virus or surfaces rather than through the air.
But one study found that the other coronaviruses – such as SARS and MERS – remains on metal, glass, and plastic surfaces for up to nine days.
Top tips include:
– Good hand hygiene: Frequently wash hands for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitzer
– Disinfect your space: Bring your own wipes and wipe down window blinds, seat belts, arm rests, touch screens and tray tables
– Choose a window seat: Sit near the window and avoid moving around the cabin to limit exposure to potentially sick people
– Use touch screen with a tissue: Avoid contact with surfaces that may hold the virus
– Avoid touching your face: 2019-nCov is spread through viral particles in mucus or saliva. Avoid touching your face and transferring germs picked up from surfaces
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