COVID-19: Airlines cancel more flights as EU raises risk rating
Updated 03:02, 03-Mar-2020
Aden-Jay Wood

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise across Europe, with the disruption spreading across an ever-increasing range of activities.

By Monday, there had been 2,158 confirmed cases and 36 deaths across Europe, with Portugal the latest country on the continent to report an infection – meaning the virus has now been confirmed in all nations in Western Europe. The European Commission has upgraded the risk of coronavirus spreading in the European Union from moderate to high.


Response team

EC President Ursula von der Leyen announced the risk of people living or traveling in Europe being infected with COVID-19 has officially been raised by the European Center for Disease Prevention Control.

According to the daily ECDC risk assessment, the risk associated with COVID-19 infection for people in the EU/EEA and the UK is currently considered "moderate to high." The previous assessment was "low to moderate."

"In other words, the virus continues to spread," Von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels, as she also announced a COVID-19 response team was being set up.

The response team will bring together all the different strands of action to enhance preparedness across the EU and comprises five European Commissioners.


British Airways announced on Monday that it would be cancelling hundreds of flights across Europe due to the outbreak of COVID-19 /AP

British Airways announced on Monday that it would be cancelling hundreds of flights across Europe due to the outbreak of COVID-19 /AP



British Airways and Irish carrier Ryanair both announced on Monday they would be cancelling hundreds of flights because of the outbreak. 

BA has cancelled journeys between London Heathrow and France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria, as well as New York's JFK airport. It has also cancelled flights between London Gatwick and Italy, France and Albania, as well as its London City Airport journeys to and from Italy and Germany. 

Ryanair has cut up to 25 percent of its flights from various airports across Europe to and from Italy for a three-week period, starting on 17 March. 

Many other airlines have cancelled flights until mid-March or early April. 

Czechia has announced it is stopping flights to and from South Korea and northern Italian cities Milan, Venice and Bologna for at least two weeks. This could be extended. Lufthansa-owned Brussels Airlines announced on Friday it would also cut a third of its flights to Italy until 14 March.

Moscow Airport suspended some flights to and from Iran from Friday and South Korea throughout this week. Only flights that are operated by its national carrier Aeroflot and Mahan Air would be allow to fly. 

The train service from Moscow to Nice, in France, which runs through Belarus, Poland, Czechia, Austria, Italy and Monaco, will be suspended from 4 March until further notice.


CGTN's Nawied Jabarkhyl reports on the situation in the UK



The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report on Monday that the euro area could hit a recession within months as a result of COVID-19.

The virus has caused chaos among many European businesses – Italy's northern regions have been especially hard hit. Companies have asked staff to work from home, and many theaters, cinemas, and bars have closed.

The virus has also forced the cancellation of several days of the Venice Carnival, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. And France's Louvre museum closed its doors to the public for a second day on Monday.

The Louvre museum in Paris was closed for the second consecutive day on Monday amid coronavirus fears /AP

The Louvre museum in Paris was closed for the second consecutive day on Monday amid coronavirus fears /AP



The European sports industry has been hit hard by the virus. Four Serie A soccer matches were postponed this weekend in Italy, including Inter Milan vs Juventus. This followed Inter's Europa League game against Bulgarian side Ludogorets being played behind closed doors last Thursday. Other cancelled events have included Ireland's Six Nations rugby clash with Italy in Dublin.

There have also been doubts about whether the UEFA Euro 2020 soccer tournament, scheduled to take place across 12 European host cities in early June, will be postponed. But an answer on that isn't expected until much nearer the time. 

On Friday, the Swiss government announced an immediate ban on all "public and private" events in the country involving more than 1,000 people until at least 15 March. This almost certainly means the cancellation of the upcoming Geneva International Motor Show.

Many sports teams have banned contact at training sessions, with England's Newcastle United soccer team being told not to shake hands with one another by manager Steve Bruce to prevent any risk of infection. 




Italian Schools in the country's northern regions have been shut and universities have suspended lessons, while many French schools remain closed in nine communes across the Oise region. 

The French national education minister has suspended all school trips abroad until further notice. 

Many schools are also closed across other European countries including some in the UK, where teachers have tested positive for COVID-19.

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