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WATCH: Egypt disinfects the Pyramids of Giza to halt the spread of coronavirus

There are currently over 488,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world and over 22,000 deaths. Egypt has 456 cases and only four deaths as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact countries all around the world.

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The Egyptian authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

On March 19, the Egyptian authorities announced the suspension of international flights.

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And now, to halt the spread even further, the pyramids are being disinfected.

It is one of the latest moves made by the government.

Egypt has also imposed a nightly curfew for the next two weeks, as well as closing schools and stopping flights into the country other than those returning from abroad.

From March 23 to March 31, all archaeological sites in the country have been told to shut shop to halt the virus further.

Some of the sites include the Egyptian museum in Cairo to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor which are huge tourist traps that bring in money to the country.

The world’s oldest colossal stone building the Pyramid of Djoser only reopened at the beginning of March but has now been closed again.

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Now that all the popular tourist sites are empty, they are undergoing a deep clean.

Videos online show cleaners wearing masks and hazmat-looking suits using industrial sterilisation equipment to clean parts of the pyramids.

The clean includes entrances to the pyramids, the ticket offices and the nearby roads to be make sure there is no risk of spreading the virus when they reopen.

However, reportedly the actual pyramids themselves are not being cleaned, according to the New York Times.

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Director general of the pyramids Ashraf Mohie El-Din explained why cleaning the pyramids themselves was more complex than most people realise.

Cleaning the ancient structures requires “specific materials” and a specialised team of excavators.”

He said: “We started the first phase of disinfection, and there are other phases.

“We are in the process of disinfecting all tourist sites, though the artefacts themselves require specific materials and (cleaning) must be carried out by a specialised team of excavators.

“We are making use of this period to sanitise the entire area, but also to carry out some maintenance work and renovation to have this area ready to accept visitors again.”

Most of the cases of the coronavirus in Egypt were linked to a cruise ship on the River Nile – the longest river in the world.

The cruise liner saw both foreign passengers and local crew tested positive.

The deadly virus has dealt a huge blow to the country’s crucial tourism sector.

There are currently virtual tours of the Pyramids and other landmarks available on Google Arts & Culture if you want to checkout the historical structures from home.

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Travel

How many flights are still running for Britons stuck in New Zealand? Full list

In a bid to protect its citizens, New Zealand has become the latest country to declare a month-long lockdown which will begin on Wednesday night. The move will see the entire country forced to remain in their homes apart from those working in essential services. The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said in an address to the nation that she was not willing to put the lives of her citizens in danger.

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But the urgency to stop the spread of the virus could see many Britons trapped in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

Here is a list of flights from some of the biggest names in the airline industry.

If your flight is cancelled it is advised that you contact the airline operating your journey for information on how you can get a refund.

Most carriers are updating affected passengers in due course.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s latest announcement says that they will be adding more domestic flights in the next 24 hours to support people wanting to return home safely.

The announcement says on their website: “As a result of the latest Government announcement, we are working on adding more domestic flights in the next 24 hours to support our customers to safely return home.

“We will update you shortly. Thank you for patience and support.”

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However, their website also says that the New Zealand government is recommending everyone travelling in New Zealand should consider returning home.

If there is no option to return home and Air New Zealand cannot assist then they recommend contacting the “national consulate or embassy in the country you are in”.

The nation has further strengthened its travel restrictions and has closed the border to almost all travellers, apart from New Zealanders.

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Qatar Airways

The airline has said that all customers affected by the current situation who have booked their ticket via a travel agency are advised to get a refund or rebook.

All tickets until June 30 will be affected for travel on or before that date.

The airline has had an unprecedented amount of people contacting them with enquiries.

They posted on Twitter: “If you are trying to contact us, we hugely appreciate your patience and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

“Unprecedented call volumes and closure of call centres due to global government restrictions is limiting our capacity to respond as usual.

“Please bear with us.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said that a number of international flights to and from New Zealand have been suspended.

The FCO is advising British Nationals already in New Zealand to contact their airline, travel provider, and insurance company for the latest information.

They also said that those who want to return to the UK soon should take account of the fast moving situation and plan accordingly.

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Travel

Flights: When can I fly to Spain?

Coronavirus has taken over the world, with a shocking 10,007 lives claimed by the deadly disease. UK residents have been advised to work from home and avoid all but essential international travel. It’s pretty clear that if we shouldn’t be going to the pub, we shouldn’t be getting off to a villa in Spain. So when can we fly to Spain again?

Is it safe to go on holiday to Spain?

The Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice from the FCO says: “the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.”

On top of this, Spain declared a State of Emergency (Estado de Alarma) on Saturday March 14- the entire country is in lockdown.

British travellers who are currently in Spain have been ordered to fly home as soon as possible and all hotels have been closed.

All Spaniards are to stay home and are only allowed to leave in order to buy the essentials, go to the chemist or hospital, or to go to work if they need to.

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Can you still fly from the UK to Spain?

Most flights to Spain are cancelled- in particular those with Jet2 and Easyjet.

Some tour operators have suspended all holidays.

Anyone planning to visit the country needs to consult their airline or tour operator, says the FCO.

Can I get a refund on my flights to Spain?

The FCO has changed its advice for Spain to “avoid all but essential travel” to the country.

If you booked with a tour operator, you will be eligible for a refund or a rescheduling of your trip.

If your airline cancels your flight, you will also be able to get a refund or arrange a rebooking.

If you have booked your holiday independently, contact the hotel you booked with and check your insurance policy.

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When will I be able to fly to Spain?

It is not advised to fly to Spain until the FCO changes their advice.

The Spanish government imposed the lockdown for two weeks initially, but has since implied that it will be longer than this.

José Luis Ábalos, the Spanish minister for transport, warned on Monday that the lockdown will “last more than 15 days”.

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Travel

Coronavirus in UAE: Is it safe to travel to UAE? Are there still flights?

Holidays seem to be off the table for the foreseeable future. UK nationals have been told to stay indoors for 14 days if they are experiencing symptoms, or those they live with are. Most people are working from home, and movement outside of our homes is extremely limited. But what about the UAE? Are flights still running from the UK to the UAE? Express.co.uk has all the information you need on the coronavirus situation in the UAE.

Is it safe to travel to the UAE?

Yesterday the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a warning to British nationals due to travel to Dubai and the UAE.

The FCO is advising all British nationals against all but essential international travel for the next 30 days at least- however there is no official statement warning against going to the UAE.

Most visitors will not be able to get a visa and so won’t be able to enter the UAE anyway.

The FCO said: “From 19 March, the UAE will temporarily suspend all visas on arrival with the exception of Diplomatic passport holders.”

The warning continued: ““Those who enter the country may be tested on arrival and/or be required to self-isolate.

“Ordinarily, if you’re travelling on a British Citizen passport, you can get a visitor’s visa on arrival in the UAE. This visa allows visitors to stay in the UAE for up to 30 days.

“The visa terminates automatically on departure and a new visa is issued on arrival each time the visitor returns to the UAE. Please check with your carrier before travel.”

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What if I am already in the UAE?

If you are already in the UAE before March 19, you can extend your visa twice without leaving the country.

Of course, you would have to pay to do this.

Each extension is for an additional 30 days.

What do I do if I have a trip to the UAE booked?

Flights are still operating to the UAE, so you’re unlikely to get your money back if you don’t go.

You will only get your money back if the FCO advice changes to advise against going to the UAE.

The latest FCO statement reads:

“If you now need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps,”

The steps are as follows:

  • Contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider
  • Continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance.

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Travel

EU Schengen area: Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

Coronavirus cases across Europe are rapidly increasing, with many nations now taking drastic action to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The number of deaths in Europe comes close to 2,000, with 48,277 confirmed cases. Worldwide there have been 7,113 deaths and more than 180,000 cases.

Italy is the worst affected nation in Europe, with more than 27,000 cases confirmed, while Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland all have several thousand infected by the respiratory disease, also known as COVID-19.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 1,543 on Monday, up from 1,372 the day before, with 55 now dead.

Today, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed plans to ban all non-essential travel in the to Schengen area.

The free travel region would be closed to all non-essential travel for 30 days if approved.

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Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

There are in total 26 European countries in the Schengen free-travel area.

Of the 27 EU member states, 22 participate in the Schengen Area.

EU member states not part of the agreement are Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Non EU-members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also within it.

Ms von der Leyen told a press conference on Monday: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.

“Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.

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“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

The Schengen Area has a population of over 420 million people.

About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, and in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce.

Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders, with 57 million crossings due to transport of goods by road, valued £2.55 trillion (€2.8 trillion) each year.

List of countries in the Schengen free-travel area

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

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Travel

Coronavirus in Romania: Is it safe to travel to Romania? Are there still flights

Romania has so far confirmed 89 cases of coronavirus in the country as the respiratory disease continues to spread through Europe. As a result, the nation has stepped up its measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide in 139 countries.

This week, the World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus crisis a pandemic as it continues to worsen.

Globally, more than 5,000 people have died, while 71,715 have so far recovered.

Many countries, especially in Europe, are now stepping up measures to delay the spread of coronavirus, including travel bans, school closures and quarantines.

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Is it safe to travel to Romania?

Close to 90 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Romania and the authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The public health system is already under significant strain.

This week the nation entered its second phase of its response to the outbreak with supermarkets and shopping centres now operating at reduced opening hours.

Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned, with cultural, artistic institutions and museums following suit.

Almost 14,000 are self-isolating while 2,067 are in quarantine.

On Friday, the government announced its members were self-isolating, after a Liberal Party senator confirmed he had the virus.

The Department for Emergency Situations spokesman, Theodor Mihai, said: “”We are considering increasing prevention measures, yet the conditions under which new restrictions will take place depends on several indicators such as the number of infected people, their health status and number of available quarantine sites.”

A work from home system has also been established as a precaution measure to come in aid of employees.

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Restrictions for travellers arriving in Romania include:

  • mandatory quarantine in an institution such as a hospital if you have travelled from Italy, Hubei Province in China, Madrid, Iran, or Daegu City or Chendongo County in South Korea
  • all flights, bus, and rail routes from Italy are suspended, and airlines have been asked to deny boarding to travellers coming from the above countries and areas
  • travellers arriving from other parts of China, South Korea, all of Iran, and Heinsberg District in North-Rhine Westphilia in Germany will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.Travellers arriving from the UK are required to fill in a form to self-certify that they are infection-free. Infringements on these procedures are being pursued with fines of up to €4000
  • the Romanian Government has indicated that travel restrictions are likely to expanded in the coming days. There are some indications that travel from the UK may be more tightly managed.

Within Romania the Government has:

  • announced the closure of national museums and other tourist attractions such as the Palace of the Parliament
  • banned confined space events with more than 100 participants, and all events with more than 1000 participants
  • closed all schools in the country until at least 22 March, which may be extended
  • recommended all universities suspend courses until 31 March
  • asked private companies based in cities and with over 99 employees to vary working hours to reduce overcrowding on public transport. Government ministries have been mandated to work with much lower staffing levels
  • advised against non-essential use of public transport

Are there still flights to Romania?

All flights to and from Italy have been cancelled, as people coming in will be automatically placed under quarantine and home isolation.

Some flights from Romania to Germany and those from Germany to Romania have also been cancelled.

Wizz Air also announced they would cancel flights to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

In a press release, the flight company said: “To help limit the epidemic, Wizz Air cancels flights from Memmingen / Munich West, Dortmund, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, Madrid, Nuremberg, Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden, Frankfurt Hahn to Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, on March 11, 2020.”

As the situation continues to worsen more flights could be cancelled and all passenger due to travel to Romania should check with the airline if the flight will still be operating.

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Coronavirus in Norway: Is it safe to travel to Norway? Is Norway on lockdown?

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide with 1,002 of these cases in Norway. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen and has now been detected in some 110 countries across the globe.

Is it safe to travel to Norway?

The Norwegian authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the ongoing crises.

The Scandinavian nation advised its citizens on Saturday not to travel abroad for the next month and urged Norwegians outside the country to consider returning home as soon as possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was making the recommendation due to the spreading virus and the risk other nations will restrict travel.

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Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said: “Countries can quickly introduce travel restrictions, quarantine at arrival from countries with coronavirus, and borders can close, flights could be cancelled or other measures initiated.”

The Norwegian capital of Oslo’s main airport has now shut its gates to foreign travellers, according to a local municipality said.

The government invoked emergency powers on Thursday to shut a range of private and public institutions, including schools and restaurants, and asked most people to work from home if they could.

The central bank made an emergency rate cut on Friday and pumped money into banks, while the government presented a package of fiscal and regulatory measures to aid the economy.

The new travel advice for avoiding infection includes the following:

  • All who have been outside Nordic countries, that is Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, are to stay in their homes for 14 days after arriving home to Norway, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
  • Travellers from countries outside the Nordic region who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return. The alternative for these travellers is quarantine. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.
  • This means that everyone presently staying in Norway and who has been in a country outside the Nordic region in the past 14 days is to be quarantined.

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This policy has retroactive effect and applies to all arrivals since Thursday 27 February.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice reads: “The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises that travellers from countries outside the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden) who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return.

“Those still wishing to enter will be required to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.

“All visitors in Norway who arrived after February 27 are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The British embassy is working to clarify what this means for those wishing to leave Norway before their 14 day self-quarantine has expired.

“Travellers are advised to check with their travel insurance company whether their policy covers them for costs incurred due to coronavirus precautions rather than illness.”

The Chief Medical Officer has advised British nationals aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health condition against cruise ship travel at this time.

A number of Norwegian ports are also considering restrictions on passenger embarkation and disembarkation.

The situation can change rapidly so check with your cruise provider before travelling.

In addition, Norwegian authorities have issued recommendations people avoid using public transport unless strictly necessary.

Airports will remain open for now, but travel is being discouraged.

Read the latest updates on travelling to Norway at the FCO website.

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Travel

Coronavirus spread: How to avoid coronavirus on flights

The city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, is a transport hub known as the ‘thoroughfare of China’. With millions of people coming and going via the city, authorities had little choice but to lock the city down.

How to avoid coronavirus on flights

Medical experts have so far recommended frequent hand-washing as the most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus.

The wearing of face masks has also been advised, but with billions of people in China and the necessity to swap masks up to four times a day, there is a high demand for the protective gear.

That increased demand could soon lead to a shortage of face masks but even so, their efficiency has been debated.

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David Powell is a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association.

He told Bloomberg that COVID-19 can’t survive for long on seats and armrests.

The greater risk of infection comes from physical contact between persons.

He adds that masks and gloves help spread bugs rather than stopping them.

Dr Powell said: “Viruses and other microbes like to live on living surfaces like us.

“Just shaking hands with somebody will be a greater risk by far than some dry surface that has no biological material on it.

“The survival of viruses on surfaces isn’t great, so it’s believed that normal cleaning, and then the extra cleaning in the event that someone was discovered to be contagious, is the appropriate procedure.”

He added: “The hands are the way that these viruses most efficiently spread.

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“Top of the list is frequent hand washing, hand sanitizing, or both.

“Avoid touching your face. If you cough or sneeze, it’s important to cover your face with a sleeve.

“Better yet, a tissue to be disposed of carefully, and then sanitizing the hands afterward.

“Washing your hands and drying them is the best procedure. When that’s not easy to do, alcohol-based sanitizer is a good second-best.”

The medical adviser warns that wearing masks and gloves could help spread coronavirus on a flight more efficiently than anything else.

Dr Powell argues that gloves and masks can in fact an ideal environment for microbes to thrive.

He said: “There’s very limited evidence of benefit, if any, in a casual situation.

“Masks are useful for those who are unwell to protect other people from them.

“But wearing a mask all the time will be ineffective. It will allow viruses to be transmitted around it, through it and worse still, if it becomes moist it will encourage the growth of viruses and bacteria.

“Gloves are probably even worse, because people put on gloves and then touch everything they would have touched with their hands.

“So it just becomes another way of transferring micro-organisms.

“And inside the gloves, your hands get hot and sweaty, which is a really good environment for microbes to grow.”

So how likely is it for passengers to be infected while travelling on an aircraft?

According to Dr Powell the risk is low because of the air inside the plane.

He said: “The risk of catching a serious viral infection on an aircraft is low.

“The air supply to a modern airliner is very different from a movie theater or an office building.

“The air is a combination of fresh air and recirculated air, about half each.

“The recirculated air goes through filters of the exact same type that we use in surgical operating theatres.

“That supplied air is guaranteed to be 99.97 per cent or better free of viruses and other particles.

“So the risk, if there is one, does not come from the supplied air. It comes from other people.”

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The coronavirus spreads quicker through human to human contact.

The World Health Organisation defines contact with an infected person as being seated within two rows of one another on a plane.

But people don’t just sit during flights, particularly ones lasting longer than a few hours.

They visit the bathroom, stretch their legs, and grab items from the overhead bins.

A study by a group of public health researchers found that passengers in window seats came into less contact than those sat in the middle or aisle seats.

Howard Weiss, a professor of biology and mathematics at Penn State University, lead the FlyHealthy Research Team study.

He told National Geographic: “If you’re seated in an aisle seat, certainly there will be quite a few people moving past you, but they’ll be moving quickly.

“In aggregate, what we show is there’s quite a low probability of transmission to any particular passenger.”

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