All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced that it will suspend all flights between Osaka and Hong Kong starting Monday, February 17, and continuing through Saturday, March 28, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). ANA also reduced the number of flights it operates between Japan and mainland China. Japan Airlines has also reduced its flights to mainland China, including suspending all flights between Narita and Shanghai starting February 17.
Effective Saturday, February 1, the Japanese government is denying entry to travelers who have visited Hubei province (China) up to 14 days prior to their arrival in Japan, in efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Chinese nationals with passports issued by the Hubei Province Authority are also being denied entry. The government has not stated how long the ban will be in effect for.
Japan is evacuating Japanese citizens from Hubei province by plane and ferry. The government has raised its travel advisory for all of China to level two out of four, warning its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel, and has raised its travel advisory for Hubei province to level three, warning against all travel.
As of Wednesday, February 5, a total of 22 cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in Japan.
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 more than 25 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 affected travelers are advised to confirm flight reservations, keep abreast of the situation, and contact their nearest embassy for further details. 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 and wear a face mask
- 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 spreading the disease
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