The head of Italy’s Civil Protection service, Angelo Borrelli, said authorities are prepared to bolster controls if the situation worsens in Italy, after three cases of the deadly coronavirus have been confirmed so far: two Chinese tourists who were staying in Rome, and one Italian national who was among those evacuated from Wuhan and repatriated to Italy.
Since declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak, Italy has suspended direct flights to and from China and ordered health checks on all passengers arriving at Italian airports.
“In Italy we monitored 511,000 people in three days and found just eight people with a fever, so we are reassured,” Borrelli told Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera.
“But in the rest of the world cases are rising and we have to be prepared.”
Borrelli added that while health checks at other transport hubs such as train stations are not necessary at the moment, “we imagine that it could happen and therefore we’re ready, and if it were necessary we would act in a matter of hours”.
He also confirmed that the health checks, which include taking people’s temperature with thermal scanners to monitor for signs of fever, will be extended to air passengers transiting through Italian airports.
Italy is the only country in Europe to have suspended direct flights to and from China entirely, a precaution that Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said would remain in place until the spread of the virus slows.