Portugal’s flagship airline, TAP Portugal, has cancelled 3,500 flights amid the COVID-19 outbreak while the President has self-quarantined as the number of cases rises to 41. The World Health Organisation this morning declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic after it has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 countries from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference: “In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteen fold and the number of countries has tripled.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb been higher.
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity.
“Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.”
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The following regions have reported cases:
Of the 41 confirmed cases in Portugal, the Northern region has the largest number with 27 incidents of the virus.
Greater Lisbon comes in second with 10 cases followed by the Central and Algarve regions, both of which have two confirmed cases of the virus.
There are currently no travel restrictions in place for Portugal, and holidaymakers returning from the holiday hotspot do not need to self-quarantine.
The current advice given to travellers from the UK Government states: “There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China, but cases have been confirmed in other countries, including Portugal.
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“The Portuguese authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus.”
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebele de Sousa confirmed that he had placed himself under self-quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person while visiting a school.
COVID-19 is a strain of the coronavirus family that has never been seen before, and like other members of its clan, it comes from animals.
Symptoms can be severe as a result of contracting the infection, and can lead to some sufferers developing pneumonia.
Carriers of the virus have reported symptoms of difficulty breathing, fever, coughs and chills, but unlike normal flu coronavirus does not respond to antibiotics.
The UK official medical advice states that you should self-quarantine if you are exhibiting symptoms of the virus or call NHS 111 if you have recently returned from one of the affected countries.
Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a speech: “In the whole country, we have 2,000 beds referred to as being reserved for people who have the coronavirus.
“Of these 2,000, we have 300 for intensive care. The National Health Service itself, in its hospital sphere, has the capacity to expand through the reorganisation of its patients services.
“The main recommendation I make is that each person who has had contact with someone who is infected or who comes to know that they are infected is particularly attentive to the symptoms they have.”
The advice for everyone during this pandemic is to wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, and anti-bacterial gel when the former is unavailable.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and stay within 1m – 3ft – of anyone you think is showing symptoms.
Can I cancel my trip to Portugal?
If your flights to Portugal are unaffected over the next few days then it is highly unlikely you will receive a refund for your bookings.
However, the best course of action is to contact your holiday provider or insurance company and discuss the options available to you.
Unless the Foreign Office changes its travel restrictions to Portugal, then hotels are not obliged to issue refunds.
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