00:18 GMT30 October 2020
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    The move mirrors the actions of a number of European Union countries, including Spain and Austria, who have halted direct flights from Italy to contain the spread of COVID-19, as the country has surpassed South Korea to become the largest coronavirus hotbed outside of China, with over 9,000 infections and at least 400 dead.

    French flag carrier Air France and Canada’s national carrier have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Italy amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the south-central European country.

    "Air France stops servicing all its Italian destinations from March 14, 2020 through April 3, 2020," a spokesperson for Air France said Tuesday.

    Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick confirmed that the carrier would suspend air traffic with Italy starting 11 March through to 1 May.

    "Due to Italian government regulations and ongoing health and safety concerns, Air Canada will suspend its service between Canada and Italy as of March 11," Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday. "We continue to monitor this situation and evaluate conditions prior to resuming service; we currently plan to restart service May 1."

    According to Fitzpatrick, Air Canada's last flight to Rome will depart Toronto on Tuesday evening, while the last flight from Rome will arrive in Montreal on Wednesday. He said that affected passengers will be notified and offered several options, including a full refund.

    Of all European countries, Italy has been most severely impacted by the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, with over 9,100 confirmed cases and over 460 deaths. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended nationwide emergency measures that place restrictions on the movement of people.

    Over 100 countries have so far registered cases of COVID-19, and the number of worldwide cases rose above 115,000 during the previous 24 hours, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University. Many countries have advised against all but essential travel to affected areas.


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    Air France, Air Canada, suspension, airlines, COVID-19, coronavirus, Italy
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