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The spread of the coronavirus triggers European travel curbs

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it “closely monitors” developments in the coronavirus epidemic, following a sharp increase in cases outside of China.

Irish airlines also said they were informed on Sunday after Italian authorities announced closure in the north of the country following an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

Austria suspended rail services in the Alps to Italy about four hours late on Sunday before restarting them after two travelers tested negative for coronavirus.

With Italy reporting three deaths and South Korea a 20-fold increase in cases in five days, international concerns are growing over the spread of the disease.

The first major travel restrictions imposed in Europe have seen over 50,000 people quarantined in various cities in the Veneto and Lombardy regions of northern Italy. Italian officials canceled sporting events, closed schools and businesses and stopped the Venice carnival.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it regularly updates its travel tips to reflect developments in the epidemic. His current travel advice for Italy notes the presence of cases in the country, but does not offer any country specific advice.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus both fly to Milan in Lombardy. Ryanair said that flights to and from Milan continue normally.

Aer Lingus said it “monitors the situation and follows all the guidelines of the competent authorities regarding this issue”.

Meanwhile, two Irish citizens have arrived in a quarantine block near Liverpool, England, after being evacuated by the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan. They were among a group of 32 people – the rest of whom are British citizens – who arrived at the center on Saturday. Four members of the team tested positive for coronavirus, according to British officials.

All over the world, the number of cases of the virus, Covid-19, has started to rise. South Korea was on high alert after the number of infections rose to over 600, with six dead. Iran has reported 43 cases, with eight deaths.

A third victim in Italy on Sunday was an elderly woman from the city of Crema, east of Milan, who also suffered from cancer.

Crucial phase

In China, which saw the vast majority of cases, authorities reported 648 new infections – higher than a day earlier – but only 18 were outside of Hubei province, the lowest number outside the epicenter since when authorities started publishing data a month ago and blocked much of the country.

President Xi Jinping said that while measures to fight the virus had been effective, the battle to contain it was still in a crucial phase. State television urged people to avoid complacency, drawing attention to people who gather in public areas and tourist spots without wearing masks.

The virus killed 2,442 people in China, which reported 76,936 cases and reduced growth in the world’s second largest economy. Since January, it has spread to 26 countries and territories, with a death toll of around two dozen.

It was fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the most vulnerable elderly and sick, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said on Saturday it was concerned about the detection of infections without a clear link with China.

The three airports serving Milan, including Bergamo – where Ryanair has a base – continued to operate normally over the weekend.

Lombardy and Veneto said they would close schools for a week starting on Monday, while the affected regions postponed carnivals, football games and fashion shows.

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