On Monday, February 10, British Airways announced the cancelations of all its flights to and from mainland China, including Beijing and Shanghai, until March 31 amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The decision comes as the British government declared 2019-nCoV to be "a serious and imminent threat to public health" on Monday, giving doctors additional authority to quarantine individuals suspected of carrying the infection. The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has doubled to eight in the UK, with health authorities urging infected persons to self-quarantine and working to identify all those who have come into contact with said persons.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
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 25 countries and territories worldwide. 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 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 spreading the disease.