Mongolian government officials announced on Wednesday, February 26, that all flights from Japan and South Kore will be temporarily suspended until at least Wednesday, March 11, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Officials also said that additional screening precautions are being implemented for flights from Europe and Central Asia, but service has not been affected. Flights between Mongolia and China also remain suspended as of Wednesday.
Other travel restrictions are in effect as of February 26, including the closure of border crossings with China. Authorities extended the suspension of coal deliveries into China until Sunday, March 15, after it was originally scheduled to resume on Monday, March 2. Restrictions on movement within the country are also ongoing. Citizens must receive specific permission from the head of their local emergency commission to travel outside of the capital Ulaanbaatar. Schools are also closed, and public gatherings have been banned until the end of March as a precaution.
As of February 26, no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Mongolia. Further international spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 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 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
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.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- 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
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.