People returning from countries with a coronavirus link are calling for more ‘structured’ instructions on how to ‘self-quarantine’.

“Will anyone stop me from going out to buy milk and bread? Are tourists from these countries being quarantined? Could self-quarantine create a teacher shortage,” a man who has just returned from Milan asked.

The man, a civil servant, was “encouraged” to go into quarantine with his wife and children who were on the other hand “forced” to stay at home by their employer and school respectively.

The family travelled to Milan on Friday before news started emerging of deaths linked to novel coronavirus in northern Italy. By yesterday afternoon, the number of deaths had reached 12.

Unfortunately, the football match they were meant to follow – Inter vs Sampdoria – was one of the four Serie A fixtures that were postponed on Sunday.

Will anyone stop me from going out to buy milk and bread?

The spread of the virus led to a lockdown of towns in the Lombardy region.

On Monday evening, there were only about 20 people at Piazza del Duomo because of the curfew imposed on shops and, by Tuesday, some stores decided not to open for business altogether, the man said.

A woman who is also in quarantine and is working from home after returning from Milan said she would rather be safe than sorry.

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“I’d rather work from home than pass on any virus I might have. Hopefully, I will have stayed at home in vain,” she said.

The spread of the virus in Italy has seen other countries take drastic measures: passengers on an Alitalia plane which landed in Mauritius on Monday opted to return straight home after being told they would have to go into quarantine.

Earlier this week, the local health and education ministries called on school staff and students to self-quarantine if they visited the affected countries.

This also applied to all employees who travelled to countries affected by the virus. Workers should be considered as being excused on presentation of travel evidence, the authorities added. 

Among others, auditing firm Deloitte Malta has already asked staff members who have recently returned from Italy to work from home for two weeks as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

If you develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, call 2132 4086 for guidance. People are urged not visit health centres or doctors in person, but instead call personal GPs.

Travellers should avoid non-essential travel to countries with presumed ongoing transmission of Covid-19, which are China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Iran and the north of Italy.

How to self-quarantine

According to the UK's National Health Service, the best place to self-isolate yourself is at your own home, where you should stay for the duration of your quarantine.

This means you shouldn't go to work, school or public areas, and not use any public transport or taxis.

If you need something from outside your home, you can ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you.

You're advised to try to avoid visitors to your home, though friends and family or delivery drivers may drop off food and other supplies.

If you are not at home, do not go to a doctor or hospital, as that could spread the virus inordinately.

Instead, you should try to find a room to isolate yourself away from others. Ask for help if you need to, but try to stay at least two metres away from other people.

Open a window for ventilation if you can, but touch objects and surfaces as little as possible and seek advice from medical authorities.

If you find yourself on public transport and become unwell, you should go back to your home or place of residence immediately.

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