'Pitiful' response from UK government slammed by British nationals travelling to Italy amid coronavirus outbreak

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 25, 2020, 11.02 AM(IST) Edited By: Nikhil Pandey

Courtesy: Reuters, AFP. Photograph:( Agencies )

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Draconian measures have been launched by the Italian government to stop the spread while they desperately search for 'patient zero' – the unknown carrier at the centre of the spike of cases.

UK tourists in Italy blasted their government's 'pitiful' response to the coronavirus crisis after passengers who were travelling to Italian cities that are hit by the outbreak stated that they had been left with no official safety advice. Though other nations are preparing restrictions on travel to Italy, Downing Street insists that Britain is 'well prepared' for an outbreak. The affected nation of Italy has also increased its efforts to contain the virus after a huge spike in cases, with 229 diagnoses confirmed and 7 dead.

50,000 citizens have been reportedly placed in lockdown by shutting off more than a dozen towns and cancelling public events. British tourists returning from the worst-hit northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are reportedly told to self-quarantine at home. Panic has been sparked across Europe after the Italian outbreak, with trains and buses carrying Italian passengers across borders halted after those on board reported symptoms. 

Austria has threatened to close its borders if suspected carries tried entering from Italy, while Ireland and Serbia advised citizens not to travel to the affected areas in the north of the country. The EU has announced a £195 million rescue plan, insisting that it does not plan on closing the Schengen travel zone to stop the spread.

Draconian measures have been launched by the Italian government to stop the spread while they desperately search for 'patient zero' – the unknown carrier at the centre of the spike of cases. Many UK tourists have reportedly cancelled trips over fears they could be trapped in Italy if the situation worsens. 

Ryanair, Easyjet and other airlines stated that flights would go ahead pending any official advice, adding that travellers were not entitled to refunds. 35 roads surrounding a cluster of towns in the Lombardy region of northern Italy have been shut down which is reportedly the epicentre of the outbreak in Italy.

Attempts to leave the area were squashed by the Italian government with three-month prison sentences. 

Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna regions have also reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Boris Johnson was criticised by Professor John Ashton, former Regional Director of Public Health in north-west England, for not articulating Britain's response to any future outbreaks.