Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific announced that all flights between Manila and Taipei (Taiwan) will be suspended indefinitely from Tuesday, February 11, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Service to Taiwan was suspended in compliance with new travel restrictions ordered by the government on Monday, February 10. Both airlines are allowing affected passengers to receive a full refund or rebooking options for their tickets. Further information can be found on the Philippine Airline website here and the Cebu Pacific site here. Flights to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau also remain suspended until at least March 28 as of Tuesday.
Under the new government travel restrictions, all foreign nationals (except those with permanent residency status) that have visited mainland China, its special administrative regions, or Taiwan 14 days before traveling to the Philippines will be denied check-in for their flight. All Filipinos and permanent residents arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan in the 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines will be required to undergo a home quarantine process. Filipinos have also been temporarily banned from traveling to the abovementioned areas until further notice.
Health officials confirmed three cases of 2019-nCoV as of February 10, including one fatality. 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 more than 26 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. 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 labored 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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and consider rebooking options, if needed, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. 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