Armenian citizens who are currently in Italy have been urged to “urgently suspend their trips and return to Armenia” because of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in this part of Europe.
In a statement issued on Tuesday Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also urged Armenian citizens to strictly refrain from visiting Italy “given the measures being taken by the Italian authorities aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
Authorities in Yerevan also called upon citizens who are currently in Italy to remain in constant contact with Armenia’s embassy in Rome.
Later on Tuesday the Irish budget airline Ryanair, which entered Armenia’s civil aviation market earlier this year, announced suspension of all flights from Yerevan to Italy and back until April 8.
Italy appears to have become the hotbed in Europe for COVID-19, a new coronavirus infection that broke out in China late last year, affecting more than 100,000 people and killing over 4,000 people globally since then.
The whole of Italy, a country of some 60 million people, has been placed under quarantine, as the Italian authorities have stepped up efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has affected more than 9,000 people and left 463 dead in the country.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late on Monday that he was extending restrictions on travel, which had been in place in the north, throughout the country.
Earlier, authorities in Armenia also urged citizens to temporarily avoid visiting Iran, China, South Korea, Japan and EU countries (particularly Italy, Germany, France and Spain) over coronavirus risks, except in urgent cases.
Armenia reported its first and yet only coronavirus case on March 1. A 29-year-old citizen of Armenia who had been evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran along with scores of others had tested positive and was hospitalized. Thirty-one other citizens who may have had close contact with the infected person had also been placed under a two-week quarantine in a disused hotel in Armenia’s resort town of Tsaghkadzor.
No new coronavirus cases have been reported in Armenia since then as the country tightened control at its border with Iran and re-introduced entry visas for Iranian citizens.
Armenia’s universities and schools resume classes on March 9 one week after being closed by the government following the confirmation of the first coronavirus case.