Vietnam Airlines announced on Friday, January 31, that it would suspend its routes to mainland China due to health concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Starting on Tuesday, February 4, the airline will suspend flights between Vietnam and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. From Wednesday, February 5, it will suspend flights from Vietnam to Chengdu, and from Thursday, February 6, flights between Vietnam and Macau and flights between Hanoi and Hong Kong will be suspended. Flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong will be reduced to seven per week.
Jetstar Pacific Airlines, which is partially owned by Vietnam Airlines, will suspend flights to Hong Kong and Guangzhou starting February 6. VietJet Air will suspend all flights to China indefinitely starting Saturday, February 1. Several other airlines, notably including Air France, Air Canada, British Airways, and Lufthansa, have suspended all flights to China to prevent further spread of the virus.
The Vietnamese government announced on Wednesday, January 29, that it would suspend its issuance of tourist visas to mainland Chinese citizens, as well Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau. To date, four active cases of the virus have been confirmed in Vietnam.
Further international spread of the 2019-nCoV 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. 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 20 countries and territories worldwide, including Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Vietnam. 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 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 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.
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