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Sat 14 Mar 2020 12:44 AM

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UAE suspends most flights to Italy as virus continues to spread

General Civil Aviation Authority says all inbound and outbound flights with Italy, with the exception of Rome, will be stopped until further notice

UAE suspends most flights to Italy as virus continues to spread

The UAE has announced the suspension of all inbound and outbound flights with Italy, with the exception of flights to and from Rome until further notice.

The flight suspension is part of the precautionary measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus, according to a statement from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The authority said that all passengers arriving from Rome International Airport are required to undergo thorough preventive medical tests at UAE airports to ensure that they are free from the virus.

Italy is one of the worst hit countries in the world with coronavirus case exceeding 15,000 and a death toll of more than 1,000.

In the Gulf region, the UAE has recorded a total of 85 infections while both Bahrain and Kuwait reported increases on Friday to 210 and 100 cases respectively. Saudi Arabia has 62 infections while Oman has 19.

"The decision to suspend flights was made after reviewing and analysing the current situation in Italy and was done in coordination with the concerned national authorities, including the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) and the UAE's national airline carriers; Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines," the statement added.

NCEMA and other concerned authorities will continue to closely monitor the situation in Italy and will take appropriate preventative measures based on careful analysis of ongoing developments as necessary.

The GCAA, which has previously halted flights to Iran, another of the world's worst-affected countries, urged all passengers to check with their respective airlines for flight status updates on affected routes.

On Thursday, Dubai-based Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul carrier, said it expected further flight cuts after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic and more countries restricted travel.

While the airline has significantly reduced passenger flights this month, “more cuts will likely follow as we review the latest situation,” chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in an email sent to employees and viewed by Bloomberg.

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