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China Bans Outbound Travel Due to Coronavirus

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and the Ambassador of China to Greece, Zhang Qiyue.

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias recently held an emergency meeting with the Ambassador of China to Greece, Zhang Qiyue, and with infectious disease specialists to discuss additional measures in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier today, Hong Kong announced that it had banned outbound travel from China in efforts to address the epidemic which has gone from nine fatalities last week to 106 people dead and at least 4,547 infected on Tuesday.

China’s ambassador to Athens confirmed that the government had banned all organized trips in and out of China in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

Syntagma Square, Athens
Syntagma Square, Athens. Photo © GNTO/Y Skoulas

In Greece meanwhile, Kikilias announced on Tuesday, the hospitals across the country that will be handling possible cases of the 2019-nCoV, which Chinese disease experts said is contagious from a two-meter distance.

According to the health ministry, hospitals in Greece equipped to deal with coronavirus incidents are:

  • Attica: Sotiria, Evangelismos, Attiko University Hospital, Thriassio,
  • Northern Greece: Thessaloniki AHEPA University Hospital, Alexandroupolis University Hospital, Bodosakio General Hospital,
  • Central Greece: Larissa University Hospital, Lamia General Hospital,
  • Western Greece: the university hospitals of Patra and Ioannina,
  • Crete: Heraklion University Hospital.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis

On Monday, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said he was in regular contact with Kikilias and National Public Health Organization (EODY) officials on the issue, noting that an estimated 200,000 visitors from China traveled to Greece in 2019, up from some 180,000 the year before.

“The first priority and for tourism purposes is to ensure that there are no problems in the country itself. We are monitoring the issue,” said Theoharis during a tourism ministry 2020 strategy presentation on Monday.

Meanwhile, country officials worldwide are taking precautionary measures with the World Health Organization (WHO) confirming more than 50 cases outside China, in France, Thailand, Japan, the US, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Germany.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the US State Department on Monday expanded their travel advisories. Japan and South Korea decided earlier today to send charter flights to the Chinese city of Wuhan to evacuate their citizens, while more than half a million South Koreans signed a petition calling for a total ban on travel from China into the country.

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