US issues Italy travel warning citing local virus ‘spread’

US issues Italy travel warning citing local virus 'spread'
Photographers take pictures of a tourist wearing a protective face mask in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the centre of Milan, on February 28. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
The United States on Friday issued a Level 3 travel warning for Italy, advising against all non-essential travel to the country due to "widespread community transmission" of Coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends that travellers avoid all non-essential travel to Italy. There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas,” the agency said in a statement.
At the same time, the US State Department raised its travel advice a notch for Italy from “exercise increased caution” to “reconsider travel”, one step below the highest warning level, “do not travel”. 
“Many cases of COVID-19 have been associated with travel to or from mainland China or close contact with a travel-related case, but sustained community spread has been reported in Italy,” the state department wrote. 
At the time of writing, Italy has reported 888 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths  — the most in Europe from the epidemic that originated in China, which is still by far the most affected country.
More than 5.6 million Americans visited Italy in 2018, the second highest of all nationalities after Germans, according to Italian statistics.
Several airlines including British Airways and Easyjet have cut the number of flights to and from Italian airports in the coming weeks due to “reduced demand”.

Since Saturday, 10 towns have been under lockdown in Lombardy and one in Veneto – a drastic measure taken to halt the spread of the disease.

However outside of this small area, there are no travel restrictions in place in Italy.

Italian government ministers have stressed that Italy remains safe to visit, as most of the country remains unaffected by the virus.

The number of cases of infection reported has risen steadily each day, though Italian researchers said on Friday that did not mean the virus was spreading.
Most cases are believed to be people who had caught it previously, but had not been tested until now.
According to the World Health Organisation 80 percent of those who are infected with the virus only suffer mild symptoms such as a headache or soar throat

Around five percent end up in a critical condition.

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