Health Board: Travelers from China, northern Italy should self-quarantine

Source: NIAID-RML/(CC BY 2.0)

The Health Board recommends people who visit China and Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and the Piedmont regions of northern Italy monitor their health for 14 days and stay home when possible.

The recommendation comes after an outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus in northern Italy which has affected more than 200 people.

Due to the 14-day incubation period of the virus, people in areas at risk should work and study at home for two weeks, the Health Board said.

"We hope employers are understanding, because limiting contacting with others until the end of the incubation period is currently the best way to prevent infections," said Mari-Anne Härma, head of the Department of Infectious Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology at the National Board of Health.

A doctor can only decide whether or not to send tests to a lab when symptoms appear, such as a fever, cough, and breathing difficulties, she said.

Although the risk of transmitting the virus is low until the symptoms of the disease appear, travelers returning from an at-risk area should, where possible, limit contact with other people.  

The Health Board advises that if you have returned from an at risk area and have a fever, cough or breathing problems, you should first contact your GP, the 1220 Family Doctor hotline, or call 112 at any time if your health worsens. You should also inform your health care professional about your recent visit to China or Northern Italy.

If you sneeze or cough, you should cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue. A respiratory mask may also be worn to prevent infecting others.

While traveling to China, you should avoid contact with both wild and domestic animals and farm animals and their excrement, as well as markets dealing with live or dead animals.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that even with highly effective health screening, approximately 75 percent of passengers will not be detected upon arrival in their country of destination, as they do not have any symptoms of illness during travel.

The ECDC's believes the likelihood of illness is low among the population of the European Union and the United Kingdom, and the risk area is high for travelers and people living in the risk area.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against traveling to virus-affected areas

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not recommend traveling to the Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Sicily, and to the island of Tenerife, due to the spread of the coronavirus and the rapidly changing situation. It previously warned against travelling to China and especially to Hubei province where it is believed the virus originated.  


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Editor: Helen Wright

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