Germany's Lufthansa announced on Wednesday, January 29, that it and its subsidiaries, Austrian Airlines and Swiss Air Lines, would be suspending all flights to China starting Thursday, January 30, and continuing through Sunday, February 9, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Flights to Hong Kong will continue as scheduled.
Austria has no confirmed cases of the virus as of January 29, but four suspected cases are reportedly under investigation.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported in Wuhan (China) on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market. 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 132 people have died in China, and an estimated 6057 cases have been confirmed worldwide.
As of January 29, cases of the virus have been confirmed in 19 countries and territories outside of China and human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany and in Japan. Virus screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.
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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, 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 spread of the disease.
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