SEVERAL study trips and cultural exchanges from Mallorca to Italy have been cancelled due to mounting fears over the spread of coronavirus.

The move comes as Italy is in a race against the clock to control the outbreak after becoming the worst-hit country in Europe, where seven people have now died and around 230 have tested positive.

Every year, pupils from Mallorcan schools embark on study trips or exchanges with students in Bologna, Florence and Pisa. 

However, due to the alarming number of cases of the Covid virus-19 in northern Italy in the last few days, the Italian Government has cancelled all educational trips with European regions including the Balearic Islands.

The Madre Alberta School has already suspended its visit to Venice, Florence and Rome, affecting a total of 90 students.

The Son Pacs Institute was also set to participate in a film festival in Brescia this weekend, which has subsequently been cancelled.

The AVIBA Business Association for Balearic Travel Agencies also reported that it had received an increased number of enquiries from ‘concerned parents’ whose children are scheduled to participate in school exchanges bound for Bologna and Florence between March and May.

The association also indicated that foreign travel reservations have plummeted by 50% in the Balearic Islands in recent weeks, with the slump being blamed on the continued spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“At present, bookings are at a minimum and in the last few days we have seen a decline in reservations at issuing agencies in Mallorca,” said Francesc Mulet, the President of AVIBA.

Calling for calm, Mulet expressed his fears that there would be further cancellations, being particularly disastrous for the travel sector, with the Easter holidays approaching.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said the recent increase in cases of coronavirus in Italy is extremely worrying because of the high number of cruise passengers arriving in Palma from Italian ports each week.

The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, said the protocol adopted at the end of January to deal with patients diagnosed with the virus will remain in place and that the Ministry is being kept informed of any new cases in the Balearic Islands.

Illa has since requested a meeting with the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System, including Government Health Minister, Patricia Gomez, to discuss and coordinate what measures need to be taken in autonomous communities.

He strongly urges citizens to consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website before travelling to Italy.

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