Portugal travel advice: is it safe to travel to Portugal after TAP airline cancels 1,000 flights

Coronavirus has spread across Europe and more than 100,000 cases are confirmed worldwide

The government hasn't issued travel restrictions for Portugal. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Almost all European countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus, and Portugal is one of the latest to announce new cases and initiate precautions to limit the spread.

Thirty cases have been confirmed in the country, the president is self-isolating and the country’s flagship airline TAP has cancelled more than 1,000 flights in an attempt to stop the virus spreading.

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So is it safe to travel to Portugal? Here’s what you should know.

How many cases are there in Portugal?

There are now 30 confirmed cases of the virus in Portugal. This is a relatively small number compared to Portugal's only bordering country, Spain.

Is it safe to travel to Portugal?

As of yet, the UK government has issued no travel restrictions to Portugal stating "There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China, but cases have been confirmed in other countries, including Portugal. The Portuguese authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus.

"Further information on coronavirus, including advice on preparing for foreign travel and helping reduce the spread of the virus, is available from Public Health England and on the TravelHealthPro website."

However, Portugal's flagship airline TAP has cancelled around 1,000 flights throughout March and April after concerns that the epidemic has led to a decline in bookings.

Portuguese airline TAP is 50 per cent state-owned and said that cancellations would mainly affect flights from Spain, Italy, and France but also some international flights (outside of the EU).

In a statement, the airline said: "The drop in demand naturally means lower revenues, therefore TAP has decided to suspend all non-critical investment, review non-essential spending cuts and suspend hiring".

Can I cancel my holiday to Portugal?

If you intend on travelling to Portugal in the next few days, and your flights are unaffected, then it is unlikely you will receive any money back for your bookings.

Unless for example your airline cancel your flight, or your hotels closes, then companies probably won't give you a refund if you are concerned.

However, the best action is to contact your holiday, hotel, or flight provider and discuss with them what your options are.

Unless the Foreign Office changes its travel restrictions for Portugal, then hotels do not need to issue refunds. But you may be able to change the date of your stay, and if the hotel is part of a large chain try and see if you can change location.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS