You may be wondering if it’s safe to travel and what steps to take if you’re already doing so. To help you navigate your journey, we’ve aggregated the latest updates and coronavirus travel advice from trusted sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Plus, at the bottom of this article, we’ve supplied an FAQ to provide more details about what the coronavirus is, which airports are currently screening travelers, how to protect yourself from the coronavirus, and more.
Official Coronavirus Travel Advice
Since this is a novel coronavirus that hasn’t been seen in humans before, there is currently no vaccine to inoculate people against the virus. Scientists across the globe, from the U.S. to Australia to Hong Kong, are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine and test it. In the absence of both a vaccine and a cure for this virus, you’re likely wondering whether to travel amid the ongoing outbreak.
Coronavirus Travel Restrictions
Officially, a coronavirus travel ban has been placed on Wuhan and other cities in China’s Hubei province. This means these areas are under complete lockdown and quarantine, affecting over 50 million people. Both inbound and outbound travel is prohibited, which means grounding all flights, and public transportation within the quarantine zones has been shut down.
On January 27, the CDC escalated its coronavirus travel warning to a level 3, recommending that people avoid all nonessential travel to China. As of January 31, it is now a global health epidemic, upping the travel warning to a level 4 by the U.S. Department of State.
Since things are changing all the time, it’s important to check the CDC’s website for the latest coronavirus travel updates—notices and recommendations are continually released as the situation continues to develop.
Airlines have been following suit and canceling flights to cities across China. If you already had travel plans to China, you may be able to rebook your flight or receive a refund. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, and more are all offering fee waivers through the end of February. Contact the airline immediately to discuss your options. Below is the latest list of airlines that are reducing or shutting down service to China, as of January 31:
On January 28, the airline stated that it was canceling select flights to China.
On January 30, Air France said it suspended all scheduled flights to and from mainland China until February 9.
Air India has canceled its Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight from January 31 to February 14.
Air Seoul suspended all flights to China on January 28.
Air New Zealand
Flights between Auckland and Shanghai are being temporarily reduced to four return services per week from February 18 to March 31 instead of the usual daily flights.
Air Tanzania planned to begin charter flights to China in February, but have now said it will delay its maiden flights to China.
The largest carrier in the U.S. has suspended flights from Los Angeles to Beijing and Shanghai from January 31 to March 27.
In a statement on the company website, British Airways said that “Following Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel to mainland China we have temporarily suspended our flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai with immediate effect, until 29 February, while we assess the situation. Flights to and from Hong Kong remain unaffected.”
Statement on the company website: “We will be reducing the capacity of our flights to and from mainland China by 50% or more, from 30 January to the end of March 2020.”
On January 31, Delta stated that it will “temporarily suspend all U.S. to China flying beginning February 6 through April 30… The last China-bound flight departing the U.S. will leave on Monday, February 3 with the last return flight back to the U.S. departing China on February 5.”
As of January 30, all EgyptAir flights to and from China are suspended starting February 1.
El Al Airlines
As of January 30, all El Al flights to Beijing are suspended until March 25. Israel’s Health Ministry also stated that flights from China are not allowed to land at Israel’s airports.
Due to low demand, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said passenger flights have been temporarily suspended between Beijing and Nagoya, in Japan.
Statement on the company website: “We will cancel our three weekly flights to Beijing Daxing International Airport and our two weekly flights to Nanjing until March 29, 2020. Cancellations are in force as of February 5 for Daxing and as of February 8 for Nanjing. We continue to operate daily to Beijing Capital Airport and to Shanghai, and twice a day to Hongkong, and to Guangzhou twice a week.”
On January 29, Indonesia’s Lion Air suspended all flights to China from February. Six of those flights have already been suspended, with the rest to come next month.
Lot Polish Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines has said it is temporarily suspending its flights to Beijing until February 9.
Germany’s Lufthansa has suspended Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines flights to and from China until February 9. The airline will continue to fly to Hong Kong, but it will not take bookings for flights to mainland China until the end of February.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, the national airline Aeroflot will continue to operate, however, all other Russian airlines will stop flying to China.
RwandAir stated on Friday that it has stopped flights to and from Guangzhou, China until further notice, and will be reviewed again in February
SAS has decided to suspend all flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing from January 31 until February 9.
Scoot Airlines said it’s suspending all flights to mainland China starting from February 8.
Based on a message on Budapest Airport’s website, the Chengdu-Budapest flight via Shanghai Airlines has been suspended between February 4 and March 28. Xi’an-Budapest flight has also been stopped between February 6 and March 26.
Singapore Airlines has issued a statement that it will reduce capacity on some of its routes to mainland China in February.
Turkish Airlines has suspended all flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Xi’an until February 9.
Service is being reduced, with 24 roundtrip flights affected. From February 1-8, the following roundtrip flights will be suspended: Hong Kong to San Francisco and Newark; Beijing (PEK) to Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and Newark; and Shanghai (PVG) to San Francisco, Newark and Chicago O’Hare.
Vietnam Airlines will suspend its flights to destinations in China until further notice over coronavirus concerns.
Virgin Atlantic as of January 31, Heathrow-Shanghai operations have been suspended: “Flight VS250 to Shanghai will depart on Friday 31st January and the final inbound flight will be VS251 on Saturday 1st February.” Flights to Hong Kong are operating as scheduled.
Skyscanner has also taken steps to help keep travelers safe by implementing a warning message that appears on desktop and mobile when someone searches for a flight with a departure or arrival point inside of China.
Coronavirus Travel Updates: What Destinations Have Been Affected?
While thousands of cases of the coronavirus have developed in China, the virus has also been confirmed in countries around the world. Here is the latest list of affected countries and confirmed number of diagnoses as of January 30:
- China: 7,736
- Australia: 7
- Cambodia: 1
- Canada: 3
- France: 5
- Germany: 4
- Hong Kong: 10
- Japan: 11
- Macau: 7
- Malaysia: 7
- Nepal: 1
- Singapore: 10
- South Korea: 11
- Taiwan: 8
- Thailand: 14
- United Arab Emirates: 4
- United States: 5 (in Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington)
- Vietnam: 2
Also noteworthy is that there haven’t been any deaths related to this novel coronavirus recorded outside of China.
We want to stress that this information is changing all the time, often multiple times throughout the day, as more people are screened for the virus and test results are publicized. For the most up-to-date details, keep your eye on official sources like the CDC and WHO.
If you are looking for coronavirus travel advice to Thailand, Hong Kong or other countries that have seen rising numbers of confirmed cases, the WHO offers this advice for the public:
Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.World Health Organization
Coronavirus Travel Insurance
The question of whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus is a tricky one, as it depends on the policy you’ve purchased and the coverage details.
Generally, standard cancellation reasons do not cover a virus outbreak. However, there are some benefits available to the policyholder if he/she contracts the virus. If this happens prior to departure and the illness is preventing you from going on your trip, you may be eligible for reimbursement since it’s an unexpected cancellation due to illness. Should you contract the virus while traveling, your policy’s emergency medical insurance benefit may cover the costs you incur. If medically necessary, you may be able to take advantage of the emergency evacuation benefit.
You may also be wondering, does travel insurance cover coronavirus if I buy it now? If you have not already purchased overseas travel insurance, you might run into providers excluding the coronavirus because of its significant increase in prevalence. Any time that becomes the case, travel insurance providers are able to restrict coverage. It’s possible that you can purchase an upgraded policy to cover the coronavirus, so be sure to look into whether that’s an option with your preferred provider.
Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions
Coronaviruses come from animals, and those we already know of include the common cold, SARS, and MERS. This group of viruses cause respiratory infections that typically affect more vulnerable populations (like those who have weakened immune systems) in more severe ways. Experts are saying this is a novel (new) coronavirus that has not been seen in humans before. It doesn’t have an official name, but is sometimes referred to as 2019-nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus).
As of January 31, the exact animal species that this novel coronavirus came from is still unknown. However, authorities feel they may have traced the origin of the virus to a wet market in Wuhan, China, called the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. This market has been closed since January 1, 2020.
Airports around the world are taking the coronavirus travel advisory extremely seriously. They are screening travelers for coronavirus by taking their temperature to see if they have a fever. Those who are sick receive further evaluation. If travelers do not display any symptoms or do not claim to be sick, they are given educational materials that detail what to do if they get sick.
The CDC announced that the U.S. government is expanding the number of airports currently participating in screenings from five to 20 (noted below). As the situation evolves, this number may change.
– Los Angeles International
– San Francisco International
– Chicago O’Hare
– New York JFK
– Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International
– Houston George Bush Intercontinental
– Dallas-Fort Worth International
– San Diego International
– Seattle-Tacoma International
– Honolulu Internationa
– Anchorage Ted Stevens International
– Minneapolis-St. Paul International
– Detroit Metropolitan
– Miami International
– Washington Dulles International
– Philadelphia International
– Newark Liberty International
– Boston Logan International
– El Paso International
– Puerto Rico’s San Juan Airport
The WHO says you can reduce your risk of infection by frequently cleaning your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; avoid contact with anyone who has a cold or flu-like symptoms; thoroughly cook all meat and eggs; avoid unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals.
The official CDC advice for those who traveled to China recently and feel sick is to immediately seek medical attention. However, before you go to the emergency room or a doctor’s office, call ahead to discuss your symptoms and give the office an opportunity to prepare its staff for your arrival.