Update: Do Not Travel to China Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Says United States Department of State

An advisory from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States officially raised the level of traveling to China to Level 4 — which is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks — meaning that travel to China is not advised due to the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Update: Do Not Travel to China Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Says United States Department of State

This is the official travel advisory in its entirety:

Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organization determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.

Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus.

In an effort to contain the novel coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air, road, and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and placed restrictions on travel and other activities throughout the country. On January 23, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members from Wuhan. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Hubei province. On January 29, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees from China. On January 31, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all family members under age 21 of U.S. personnel in China.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Warning for all of China. The CDC has published suggestions on how to reduce your risk of contracting the Novel Coronavirus. Visit the CDC webpage for expanded information about the Novel Coronavirus, including prevention, signs and symptoms, and treatment.

The current level officially advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to avoid nonessential travel, which at Level 3 is the highest level:

Warning — Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert — Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch — Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Meanwhile, many airlines have suspended all flights to China for the next few months — including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, which is located in the Hubei Province of China; and since then, at least 258 people have died as a result. At the time this article was written, 26 countries and territories have confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Six confirmed cases have been reported in the United States; and at least 20 airports in the United States have been actively publicly screening incoming travelers from Wuhan.

All operations were shut down at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport until further notice effective as of Thursday, January 23, 2020 at midnight Eastern Standard Time, which has forced 49 airlines to cancel flights to and from Wuhan; and the entire city of Wuhan is currently under lockdown.

Meanwhile, some airlines — such as Japan Airlines — have issued directives to members of cabin crews that they are required to wear masks when performing cabin service on select routes as a precautionary measure effective as of Friday, January 24, 2020.

Investigations to learn more about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus are ongoing in this rapidly evolving situation.

Should You Be Concerned About Coronavirus?

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health responses”, according to this summary from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of MERS and SARS between people has generally occurred between close contacts. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health responses.”

Several known coronaviruses infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold — but officials at both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are concerned about this latest outbreak.

The summary continues with how early on, “many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.”

What you can do — similar with the prevention of being infected by other germs and viruses — is to wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

Discussions on FlyerTalk

Numerous discussions on FlyerTalk have been created in different forums — including:

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to China over the next few months, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are 16 airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in China:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Wuhan for Thursday, January 23, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Beijing and Shanghai for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020; and Sunday, May 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Hong Kong for Tuesday, January 28, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and Tuesday, March 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for Beijing and Shanghai for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Thursday, April 30, 2020; and Sunday, May 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for:
    • Wuhan for Wednesday, January 22, 2020 through Sunday, March 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Thursday, April 30, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Hong Kong for Tuesday, January 28, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and Thursday, April 30, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air Canada has issued travel alerts for:
    • Wuhan for Wednesday, January 22, 2020 through Sunday, March 29, 2020; and Monday, June 15, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Beijing and Shanghai for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and Monday, June 15, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Hong Kong for Friday, January 31, 2020 through Saturday, February 15, 2020; and Wednesday, April 15, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air France has temporarily suspended all:
    • Flights to and from Wuhan through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • Group travel to China through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • British Airways has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from China for Sunday, January 26, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Hongkong Airlines has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and Wednesday, May 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and Sunday, May 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Lufthansa has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Sunday, February 23, 2020; and Wednesday, September 30, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • China Airlines has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China and Hong Kong for Monday, January 27, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways has:
  • All Nippon Airways has cancelled all flights from:
    • From Tokyo to Wuhan for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
    • From Wuhan to Tokyo for Saturday, January 25, 2020 through Sunday, March 1, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Korean Air has canceled all flights to Wuhan for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020; and Tuesday, March 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Singapore Airlines has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and Sunday, May 31, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Etihad Airways has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Saturday, February 29, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Jetstar Airways has issued a travel alert for all flights to and from Mainland China for Friday, January 24, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and no exact date was given as the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

Additional airlines may issue travel waivers as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus; and existing travel waivers may be extended.

Please refer to this article pertaining to whether you should be concerned about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which was written on Friday, January 24, 2020 here at The Gate — for additional details and general information.

Do not panic. If you are concerned about the possibility of being infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, all you need to do is take the aforementioned simple precautions to reduce — or even eliminate — your risk of contracting the virus as you would with other germs and viruses.

Because I wash my hands thoroughly and often, I am not at all afraid, concerned, or worried about being infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

For further information and details on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, please refer to the following articles:

Graphic ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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