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28 Jan 2020 | 02:24 PM UTC

Marshall Islands: Authorities ban direct travel from China January 24

Authorities announce ban on direct travel to Marshall Islands from China as of January 24 to prevent spread of coronavirus 2019-nCov; heightened security presence expected at ports of entry nationwide

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MHL

Event

On Friday, January 24, Marshallese authorities announced a ban on direct travel from China to the islands to prevent the spread of coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a virus that originated in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). According to the advisory, "any traveler with travel originating from or transiting through the PRC must spend at least 14 days in a country not affected by 2019-nCoV." Individuals attempting to enter the Marshall Islands within the 14-day period will be denied entry. No case of the virus has been reported in the country as of Wednesday, January 29 (local time).

Context

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. 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. At least 106 people have died in China, and an estimated 4600 cases have been confirmed worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency panel in Geneva (Switzerland) on January 23 to discuss the virus, ultimately deciding that it was too early to classify the outbreak as a "public health emergency of international concern." As of January 28, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Australia, Canada, Cambodia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the US. Virus screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.

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.

Advice

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