According to the British Airways office in Tirana, this widely reported news was not correct. Exit regrets any panic that may have ensued as a result of the publication of this article. We undertook fact-checking including researching reputable sources, speaking to individuals who had been unable to book, and contacting both the British Airways office in Tirana and the UK. At the time of publication, neither had responded to our requests for information.
British Airways have said they will cancel all flights to and from Albania due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak across Europe and the world, according to the British media.
While Albania has not confirmed any cases of the virus, BA took the decision to cancel flights earlier in the week according to reports. Other countries affected by the action include Italy, France, Austria, and Germany where there have been confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus.
A spokesperson for the airline told Sky News that they will be contacting those who have already booked flights and offering refunds, rebooking to other carriers, or the opportunity to book on another date. They said that the general decision to make cancellations included “a spike in cases” in the UK and passengers would see timetable changes between 16 March and 28 March.
Despite a denial from the BA office in Tirana, a couple wishing to travel from London to Albania later in the month told Exit they were unable to book tickets. Exit has reached out to the Albanian BA office but received no response and is awaiting a response from the office in the UK.
Meanwhile, deaths in the US have reached 12 and the total number of recorded infections in India has risen to 31. Globally, more than 95,000 people have been affected by the virus, the majority of which are in China where 3015 have died. The rest of the other deaths total 267 cases have occurred in Italy and Iran. In Italy, 148 people have died since the first case was reported, 41 in the last 24 hours.
Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia appear to have remained untouched by the virus while neighbouring Croatia, North Macedonia, and Greece have all noted incidents. Bosnia has confirmed two cases in a father and child.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned governments that the continued spread of the virus is “not a drill” and required significant action from public health authorities to contain the outbreak.
He added that he is concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment does not match the threat level.
Raul Gonzalez-Montero, the WHO representative in Albania has said that the organisation is looking into possible reasons why no cases have been identified in Albania.
“Why is it that there is no single case in Albania? We are still learning about this; this is something new to us,” he said during a task force meeting earlier in the week.
The Ministry of Health and Social Protection headed by Ogerta Manastirliu has stated repeatedly that there is no Coronavirus in Albania. Authorities say just 50 tests have been carried out, all of which came back negative.
While Coronavirus may have killed just over 3000 people worldwide, seasonal influenza, which also has no cure has killed 18,000 in the US alone during this winter.