As the coronavirus takes root in Italy and people fear for its spread across Europe, Austria is taking steps to protect its citizens. On Sunday, Austria suspended train services to and from northern Italy for four hours to test two passengers suspected of carrying the coronavirus. The train, which came from Venice and was heading to Munich, continued on as the travelers were tested negative.
Northern Italy — which borders Austria, Switzerland, and France — is currently on lockdown following an outbreak of the virus over the weekend. On Monday, February 24, 2020, the World Health Organization reported 124 confirmed cases and two deaths in Italy.
According to Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Monday, “As far as the borders and cross-border traffic are concerned, we will proceed as follows: we will further tighten warning systems with our neighbours; [and] we will immediately order a stop in the event of suspected cases, as happened last night.”
The European Union’s Schengen Zone ensures that any person, no matter their nationality, may cross the international borders within the EU without any border control. Although EU nations can temporarily reintroduce border checks in case of a serious threat to public policy or internal security, no EU country has yet chosen to impose this measure to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.
As of Monday, Austria reported the first two cases of the virus in the country.