Addio and Hallo: Coronavirus threat causes detour for Saint John students headed to Europe
Students had planned to go to Italy, will now travel to Germany, Switzerland and Austria
A Saint John high school's European vacation has taken on a more Germanic flare due to fears of Covid–19.
A group of over a dozen students from Harbour View High School were scheduled to go to Italy as part of their March break trip, but those plans were altered after outbreaks in the country killed 7, with 220 cases confirmed.
The students will now likely travel to Switzerland, Austria and Germany instead.
Patrick MacDonald, a Grade 12 student at the school, said students were happy to hear the trip would go on.
"I think everyone was really relieved," said MacDonald.
"It was a scary prospect that we were going to go to a country that's kind of like going through a pandemic … So we were all relieved in a way."
Northern Italy is now subject to a level two travel advisory from the Government of Canada.
While the advisory does not specifically ban travel to Italy, it does warn Canadians to avoid spending time in large crowds and to monitor their health for 14 days after returning.
They also advise isolation if someone who traveled to the area develops fever, coughing or difficulty breathing.
The students were expecting to fly into Milan and begin their trip there.
Milan is located in Lombardy, one of Italy's 20 administrative regions. This region is the epicentre of the outbreak in Italy and 11 towns have been put under quarantine.
Large gatherings in the region have been postponed, including Serie A soccer games.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist with Toronto General Hospital said, while it makes sense to be cautious when flying overseas, he is actually planning on flying to Singapore next week, where cases have been confirmed.
"I think it's going to be harder and harder to pick out individual countries and say "Well is it there, is it not there," because the way the pendulum is swinging now this is really starting to circulate more broadly," said Bogoch.
Bogoch said special attention will have to be paid to Europe's experience.
"Even today there are more reported cases in Europe," said Bogoch.
"For example, Austria and Switzerland reported some imported cases as well. So I'm interested to see what the European experience is like and, as well, very curious to see how this plays out in other continents where we haven't heard so much about this."
The students saved up $4,000 each to pay for the trip and are scheduled to fly out Thursday through the tour groups EF Tours.
While MacDonald will miss his chance to visit the Vatican this time around, he said he's just thankful that he gets to go to Europe.
With files from Rachael Cave and Harry Forestell