In the last few weeks, news about the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it’s spreading, especially in South Korea, Iran and northern Italy, has made international headlines.
We have been receiving a lot of questions from our guests about safety in Rome during this Coronavirus outbreak. To answer these questions and help others with the same ones, we decided to put together this article on the information available at the time of writing.
Right now there are just 400 confirmed cases of Coronavirus patients in the entire country, and just 3% mortality rate (affecting only elderly patients with pre-existing and chronic conditions). These statistics are not much higher than the common seasonal flu. For the most up-to-date figures about the Coronavirus in Italy, check the Italian Health Ministry website.
Is it safe to visit Rome right now?
Yes! At the time of writing this post, Rome has not been affected by extraordinary containment measures. Here it’s still “Business as Usual” Italy’s handling of the Coronavirus outbreak so far has been swift, effective and transparent.
If you planned to visit Milan or Venice during your trip to Italy, expect your plans to change or consider avoiding these areas as the outbreak is more concentrated there.
Besides the virus or any health risks in Italy, a bigger issue may be precautionary measures taken in your community, state or country. Check with any travel advisories prior to departing to see if there are any special precautions being taken for travelers visiting or returning from Italy.
Are any museums or attractions closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak?
At the time of writing this post, only the catacombs throughout Rome have been closed. The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology closed the catacombs cited high levels of humidity and poor ventilation as the reason for closing the catacombs. So far this is the only precautionary measure taken in Rome concerning the closure of any museums or attractions.
Do I need to wear a face mask around Rome?
No. A face mask is not required by any local health authority, but if you plan to visit Rome now then expect to see more people wearing face masks than normal.
Where can I buy a face mask or hand sanitizer in Rome?
Pharmacies and supermarkets are the general suppliers of such items as face masks (maschera, pronounced “mas-kera” in Italian) and hand sanitizer (amuchina, pronouced “a-moo-kee-na” in Italian), however due to the very sudden high demand, you can likely find these items at other shops as well.
Are the supermarkets empty? Can I still buy groceries?
Yes, you can still buy groceries at supermarkets. The images shared by the media showing tragedy-stricken supermarkets with empty shelves are only the most dire of cases. Here in Italy, you may find that inventory is lower than usual, but supermarkets are still stocked with the essentials.
What should I do to protect myself from the Coronavirus?
Despite the dramatic media attention the Coronavirus is receiving around the world, the mortality rate is slightly higher than that of the common seasonal flu. The mass hysteria and fear-mongering generated by the media is far more harmful than the virus itself.
That said, the CDC advises that enhanced precaution be taken if you’re visited places where the outbreak has taken place.
If you travel to Italy, take the following steps:Avoid contact with sick people.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
If you spent time in Italy during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing:Seek medical advice. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel an area with community spread of coronavirus, and your symptoms.
Avoid contact with others.
Do not travel while sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
Rome Accommodation is still “Business as Usual”
We are still operating and welcoming guests to Rome. The media has caused quite an alarm that we are experiencing unnecessary cancellations like everyone else. Of course your health is our top priority, but the risk of visiting Rome for most people right now is quite low.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you, and hope to welcome you to Rome in the near future!