25.02.20

The Chief Epidemiologist´s travel advice for Northern Italy and Tenerife. COVID-19.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside of China have increased in recent days, including Europe where cases in Northern Italy are approaching 300. One suspected case was reported from Tenerife, Spain, but is yet to be confirmed.

The Chief Epidemiologist advises against unnecessary trips to four provinces in Northern Italy, but no travel advices have been made for Tenerife.

Northern Italy and Tenerife are popular destinations for Icelanders. Here below are the Chief Epidemiologists' recommendations for these two areas. It should be borne in mind that the situation in Europe with regards to the COVID-19 changes rapidly and therefore these recommendations could change with a short notice.

Northern-Italy

The Chief Epidemiologist advises against unnecessary trips to Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont in Italy. Individuals that have been in these areas in the past few days and are in Iceland are advised to stay at home for 14 days as a precaution. This does not apply to individuals travelling from Italy to Iceland through international airports in Northern Italy but have stayed in other areas than mentioned. It is important that individuals in these areas pay special attention to hygiene and follow the instructions of local health authorities.

For now, the advise against unnecessary trips does not extend to ski resorts in Northern Italy as they are outside the abovementioned risk areas and no cases have yet been reported from there.

Tenerife

A suspected case of COVID-19 has been reported from the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, Spain. So far, there are no indications of other cases or that the virus has spread. Because of that, there are no travel restrictions to Tenerife as of now. However, it is important that individuals in Tenerife or are planning to travel to Tenerife pay special attention to hygiene and follow the instructions of local health authorities.

The Chief Epidemiologist will continue to gather information with regards to individuals that have been staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel and are already in Iceland or are on their way to Iceland. For those that have stayed at the hotel for the past two weeks are advised to stay at home for 14 days as a precaution. So far, there is no need for travelers that have no contact to the hotel to be quarantined upon returning to Iceland.

General hygiene

The Chief Epidemiologist advises people to pay close attention to personal hygiene (hand washing, using a paper towel/cloth when sneezing and coughing). The risk of infection can be easily avoided by taking good care of their personal hygiene. Hand washing and general hygiene around the eyes, nose, and mouth are key factors in reducing risk of infection.

The COVID-19 is similar to the influenza in the sense that the symptoms and pathways of infection are similar. Symptoms resemble influenza infection, coughing, fever, bone and muscle pain, fatigue, etc. The virus can cause serious illness in those with underlying conditions, characterized by lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia, which often appear as difficulties with breathing on day 4 to 8 of illness.

If individuals start to feel symptoms, they are recommended to call 1700 (+354 544-4113 for foreign numbers) regarding how to approach the health care system.

These individual are specifically asked not to attend any emergency units or clinics without receiving telephone advise.

Status

We are currently working on an uncertainty phase according to the Icelandic Pandemic for Influenza Preparedness Plan. The Chief Epidemiologist is working on coordinating actions, guidelines, information for the general public, healthcare professionals, travel industry, and the business community.

The risk assessment of the Chief Epidemiologist for Iceland harmonizes with the European Centre for Disease Control´s risk assessment. According to the risk assessment there is an increased likelihood that the virus will transmit to European countries from other countries than China. The situation is constantly being reassessed. The chance of the virus being a public health threat in European countries that take measures such as quarantine and isolation is considered low. Although, the infection can have serious effect for those that fall ill.

 

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