Updated: 10th March 2020.
Things are all upside-down. Coronavirus – A recent name that causes a real concern to the minds of all the travelers to Italy. But is it really a concern? Should you start canceling all your trips to Italy?
Sad news. Today, officially the count has surpassed 100,000 around the world.
There are stricter measures taken by the Italian government on a daily basis. After the last regulation to lock down the Lombardia region like the red zone, many fled the scene heading towards the south of Italy.
One side it was unfortunate. Because it had more chances of spreading the dangerous virus all over Italy. On another hand, it also will help in will make sure the doctors in northern Italy are saved.
Sorry to say this, but else I can say after seeing the situation of the doctors here?
Doctors are human too.
The latest regulation announced yesterday has put the whole of Italy is under lockdown. Still, there are ambiguity and confusion among the people in the way the regulation is interpreted. So, here is a short version to help fellow people.
To Do Or Not To Do?
The regulation will be in effect till the next month, April 3. The main confusion comes due to the mention of the “essential movement” is not clearly defined.
What is essential to some may not be for others. So, this causes confusion and the people complaints about the circular being unclear.
So, unless it is really necessary (buying needed supplies to home, urgent or justified travel to work, emergency medical attention, etc) To aid in making this a reality, several offices in Italy have requested their employees to work from home. Agreed, not all operations can be performed in remote, like the essential service, doctors, etc.
Let us stay at home, and leave the roads for these people who have to absolutely travel for one reason or another. Trains and buses are running as normal exactly for these reasons.
If you need to travel for the reasons mentioned above, make sure you carry the self-certification document.
In the last few days, we notice that the shops and supermarkets have been displaying the sings to make sure people are not crowding behind one another in the cash counters.
Schools and public events etc are all closed until April 3rd. Most schools have enabled remote learning, to make sure kids are not losing their classes, and learn in a safe and sound environment – Home!
This is not the end. Things will improve, do not panic. And the situation will be reviewed at regular intervals.
Let us help the government in every way we can to make sure the virus is completely eradicated from the globe.
Does Coronavirus Worry You?
If such questions are worrying you, then relax. Read this article to get the insight of Coronavirus and the ground reality of it in Italy.
If you have been following my blogs by now you know that I live in Milan. It is near the epic center of the region of Italy where we find the most number of Coronavirus cases. Yes, the region of Lombardia.
Moreover, in the past few days, I have been constantly getting messages and emails from my friends & followers asking about the situation and if they should cancel their trips to Italy. So, I decided that I should post my thoughts and the situation that prevails here in these days.
First thing first, we are all safe and sound here. Thanks for all your messages and queries on me and my family well being. I see people reporting to the office, kids playing in the park, and business as usual in Milan.
It is only when we read the global news we are asking ourselves, “Is it really that bad?” Of course, there was a bit of panic in the first couple of days when the news broke out about the entry of the virus into Italy with a bang – one died in Codogno.
People started emptying the shelves of Supermarkets, masks and hand sanitizers from the Pharmacy and what not. But things started to return to normal within the following week.
The moment the news about the virus broke in Italy, all schools and universities in northern Italy were closed. All public gatherings and meetings were all called off. People complained about it as a knee-jerk reaction of the government. But I personally think of it as a good move.
Now the government takes stocks of the situations regularly and takes necessary actions.
What is Coronavirus?
I am surprised that people are still not fully aware of the virus, even though the news came out of China a few months back. Moreover, the WhatsApp university has been playing its dirty tricks in keeping people away from reality and spreading all sorts of misinformation.
So please do get your official information from reliable sources like the World Health Organisation that has updated their portal with detailed information about the virus, precautions to be taken and FAQs.
In short, Coronavirus is a family of viruses that causes simple cold to serious respiratory diseases in humans and animals. The recently discovered one that put the world into panic mode is called the COVID-19.
The first case was reported in Wuhan city of China. It slowly made its announcement when the world was busy preparing for the New year – 29 December 2019.
It is similar to the one like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) but spreads stronger. The mention of SARS reminds me of an interesting experience I had a decade ago.
It was February 2003. During those days I was a frequent flyer with several short visits to countries in Asia, Europe and America. During the peak of the SARS season, I had a business requirement to travel to Japan. I was instructed to visit the business place ONLY after 10 days of landing in Japan. Why?
Because my transit was planned to be through Singapore. I was 17 years younger than today and so without any second thoughts, just took the flight and reached Japan. Today I keep wondering about myself on how I did that trip without any fear or doubts on mind.
Is Coronavirus alarming in Italy?
Today Italy is placed fourth in the list and portrayed to be the worst affected country in Europe. Yes, it has huge cases – 2500 as of now when I write this article, but it is the count for the entire country. Officially, around 79 deaths. But is not widespread and contained within few regions of Northern Italy.
Out of 2500, around 60%, 1500 cases are in the Lombardy region. Other 400+ cases in Emiglia Romagna. And yes, the virus is spread through Italy but the majority is contained in very few regions of Northern Italy.
| Updates as of 5th March 2020: The Coronavirus case in Italy is actually increasing at an alarming level. Today it surpassed Iran, and ctossed 3800 cases. The number of death is also increased to 148.|
Globally, it is almost close to 100K confirmed cases.
|Updates as on 6th March 2020:|
The count have rocketed north in Italy. One good news is the number of recoveries are improving.
|Italy is no more alone in the EU. The whole of Europe is taking a hit due to the Coronavirus.|
|Updates as on 7th March 2020:|
Things are actually getting into more trouble. A increase of 1145 cases in one single day. There are talks of declaring Lombardia region as red zone. It would be compelete travel ban across the regions.
As you can see below, it is the steepest rise of positive cases being detected in the last 2 weeks.
| Updates as on 9th March 2020:|
As you know Lombardia is locked out, and strict travel restriction in place. Still, the situation is worrying. Today we had almost 1600 cases newly added to the list.
The Lombardia region is the most affected one and it is understandable why the lock-down is implemented here. But what’s next? Past few days, the number of cases is only adding to the list and no scope of improvement.
What is truly alarming is the speed at which it spreads. Only after 2 weeks of infection, the virus shows its presence. This adds to the reason for this spread. By the people realized they are infected, it is late.
As of today, Milan province has 93 confirmed cases. Sources.
Reality in Milan
As I mentioned before, Milan city is not in the red zone of this Coronavirus. So, business is as usual here. Most companies have employees working at the office, with few tech companies offering the Smart Home option to work from home.
Except for schools and universities, all shops, bars, etc are all open. No locks or closure of the Milan. People move freely, take public transports, meet friends. Some attractions like Duomo are now open for the public.
The only visible change is the traffic – less than usual traffic mostly due to the closure of schools and universities. It looks more like the summer has arrived earlier.
The supermarkets too have their shelves filled. People no more stock things in a panic. Pharmacy and shops have the “Masks available” boards on display. Hand sanitizer is still in demand in some places.
We do hear about some of the airlines shutting down their flights to Milan, like the American Airlines and Delta Airlines. The rest of the flights are operating, and so the airports are working.
Impact of Coronavirus on Italy
Unfortunately, it is not a good situation for Italy. With the cancellation of trade shows like Furniture fair, Fashion shows, heavy restrictions to travel in/out of Italy, not only the hospitality industry but Italy’s economics is bound to take a hit shortly.
Along with the slowdown in the EU, the Brexit, Coronavirus has added more negative news to the Italian economy. Only time can tell on how quick it can recover if at all it did.
Will my Travel Insurance cover Coronavirus?
Travel insurance is an important part of your travel preparation. Travel Insurance is purchased to reduce the financial impact that could outbreak due to unforeseen reasons.
Generally, these insurance cover the following
- Flight delays or cancellations
- Lost, stolen or damaged baggage
- Emergency Medical assistance
- Repatriation or evacuations
So, travelers planning to buy insurance should note that most Insurance companies declared the Coronavirus or the COVID-19 as a known disease. This means disruptions, delays, diseases due to this virus will no more be covered under the medical assistance of Insurance.
If you are planning to cancel your trip, the best is to discuss with the Airlines and Hotels directly to see how you can cancel and still get refunds. Unless you have booked hotels with cheap offers or grab-an-offer type of booking, most other hotels would be in a position to cancel the booking with any issues. Most big chains of hotels will be ready to cancel and refund the full amount.
In fact, I did cancel my trip to Singapore and Malaysia due to this outbreak. And hotels in both these places have agreed to cancel my bookings without any cancellation charges.
They do understand the situation and so contact your Hotels and Flights before it is too late.
Should I Cancel Travel to Italy?
Ok, with all these caveats and situations I can understand your question. Should I travel or cancel the trips to Italy? Is that your predominant question?
As I mentioned before, business is mostly as usual in Milan or most parts of Italy. Attractions are also open to tourists. Maybe even your country has no travel restrictions to/from Italy today. But is that guaranteed in the next coming weeks?
No one can say it. With the increasing number of cases detected in Italy, it is only a matter of time before a travel ban is implemented on the Italian border.
So I would recommend to closely follow the updates and progress in Italy related to the virus and make a cautious decision.
Remember, “Health is Wealth” and what is the best way to maintain health than the self-hygiene and good diet. Wash your hands regularly, eat healthy, and stay healthy.