On Monday, February 3, StarLux Airlines announced the cancelation of all flights to and from Macao - its only route to China - from Saturday, February 8, to Saturday, March 29, due to the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Taiwan's Foreign Ministry also stated that the country will deny entry to foreign nationals that have been in mainland China in the past 14 days starting Friday, February 7. It represents an extension of an existing ban issued on Sunday, January 26, which states that Chinese tour groups and individuals from Wuhan (Hubei province) will be prohibited entry into the territory until further notice. Those allowed to enter the territory such as business travelers and other exceptions such as those married to Taiwanese natives will be monitored for two weeks.
To date, ten cases of the virus have been confirmed in Taiwan.
Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 24 countries worldwide besides China, as well as in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease.