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Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak; All You Need to Know

Since reports of the coronavirus surfaced in late December, over 550,000 people have been infected and over 22,000 have died around the world. As the virus continues to have a global impact.

Here is everything you need to know about traveling right now.

What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, within the Hubei province of China. WHO announced on Feb. 12 that the official name for the specific strain of coronavirus is COVID-19.

On March 11, WHO tweeted that they have officially characterized coronavirus as "a pandemic." “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.


What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You'll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.
What can you do to prevent coronavirus?

General flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Extra measures include sanitizing commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or sprays. Also avoid touching your face and close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

When eating, be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs.

Additionally while traveling, the TSA has allowed for passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag until further notice, according to their website.
"Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience," the update read. 

What countries are affected by coronavirus?
The number of confirmed cases and deaths below are according to Johns Hopkins University's real-time map from their Center for Systems Science and Engineering department, unless otherwise noted.
China:

The overwhelming majority of coronavirus cases are within mainland China, with over 80,000 confirmed cases and over 3,200 deaths.

The city of Wuhan, which was the original epicenter of the outbreak and has been under strict quarantine, will have its lockdown lifted on April 8. The lockdown restrictions in the remainder of the Hubei province will be lifted on March 24. Under quaratine, transportation links were cut and streets and shelves were empty as residents were urged to go outside only for essential supplies.

There have been 317 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Hong Kong, according to CNN.

Elsewhere in Asia:
South Korea has had more than 9,000 coronavirus cases, and 104 people have died since the first case was confirmed on Jan. 20. However, Johns Hopkins reports that over 3,000 people have recovered from the virus.

On March 13, the country reported that recoveries outpaced the number of confirmed cases for the first time, marking a milestone in relief efforts.

In Japan, there have been over 1,300 confirmed cases and 40 deaths. In what became a major story surrounding the outbreak, many of the confirmed cases were initially on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined while docked in the Yokohama port near Tokyo. Four passengers, who were taken off the ship and hospitalized passed away. They were all above 80 years old. Japan officials also decided to close schools amid the outbreak.

According to the CDC, South Korea and Japan both have a Level 3 travel advisory, encouraging people to avoid all nonessential travel.

Taiwan — which has 195 cases of coronavirus — has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China, as well as suspended most flights. Those who have an urgent need to travel to Taiwan must appear at a consulate in their city and prove that they have not been to mainland China within the past 14 days. Those who have visited and were already granted visas are instructed to self-impose a quarantine; failure to do so is punishable by an almost $5,000 fine. Taiwan has also banned all cruise ships from docking at its ports.

Thailand has 721 confirmed cases and Vietnam has 122.


The United States:
There are over 60,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 800 deaths.

The State Department announced on March 19 that they are advising Americans to avoid all international travel in a Level 4 advisory.
"In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the US should arrange for immediate return," the State Department wrote on Twitter.
Following the State Department's announcement California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a "stay at home" restriction for the state where over 1,787 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 35 people have died, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times, Californians can leave their homes for essential trips to gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker followed with announcing the same restriction until at least April 7, according to the Chicago Tribune. A number of businesses will remain open, including grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and laundromats. Roads, highways, and public transit will also continue to operate, while restaurants will only offer carry-out service. Those who leave their homes to get exercise or walk their pets are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines.

Last week, President Trump announced that the border between Canada and the U.S. will be closed for non-essential travel, which was also confirmed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The ruling comes after the government declared a national emergency on March 13, according to the Associated Press, which followed a travel suspension on individuals coming from Europe. On Saturday, the travel ban was extended to include the UK and Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence announced.

Although U.S.-based cases first emerged Washington state, New York is hosting the highest number of cases with over 37,000 cases as of March 23, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Specifically in New York City, there are over 21,000 cases and nearly 400 deaths, The New York Times reported. The daily rise of cases led to Mayor Bill de Blasio declaring a state of emergency in the city on March 20, which he said was "now the epicenter" of the coronavirus crisis.

Schools will be closed until April 20, and attractions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building observatory, Ellis Island, and Top of the Rock have also closed their doors.. Broadway will be dark until April 12.

The executive order also limits restaurants, bars, and cafes to takeout orders and deliveries. He strongly recommended all New Yorkers work from home and only leave their residences for essential trips.

Furthering precautions, The White House public health officials ruled that any individual traveling from outside of New York City needs to quarantine for 14 days, according to CNN.

Although New York has the highest number of cases, and now the highest number of deaths after the country's first fatality was in Washington state on February 29.

Amid the outbreak, airports around the country, including JFK and LAX, have rerouted passengers coming in from China to screening centers. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination, although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.


Europe:
Italy has more than 80,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 8,000 deaths has become the epicenter of the European outbreak.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte placed the country under lockdown after first quarantining northern regions of the country. Tourist attractions like the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, museums and nightclubs are closed. When the virus first emerged in Italy, the scare prompted Venice's Carnival to end early as well as adjustments in how shows were viewed during Milan Fashion Week.

The startling increase led the European Union to close all borders in an announcement on March 17.

Spain and France are both under similar quarantine rules with strict travel restrictions throughout each country. Spain, the European country with the most cases after Italy, at over 39,000, banned residents from leaving home other than for work, to buy essential supplies, or to seek medical care or aid the elderly, The New York Times reported.

France, which has more than 25,000 cases, meanwhile shut down "non-indispensable" businesses including cafes, restaurants, theaters, and most shops.

Ireland has called on all bars and pubs in the country to close until the end of the month with over 900 cases confirmed. They also canceled their St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is barring visitors from "high-risk countries," including China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, The New York Times reported. Outbound travel to these countries is also prohibited.

On March 17, Belgium became the latest country to implement a lockdown, The Telegraph reported. The restriction, which begins on March 18 and lasts until April 5, will limit movement to supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, or medical emergencies, according to the outlet.

Germany has over 43,000 cases and has also closed its borders.

United Kingdom:
The United Kingdom has over 1,100 confirmed cases and 580 confirmed deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have both tested positive for the virus with what both have said are mild symptoms and are self-isolating.

In a televised address prior to his diagnosis, Johnson implemented a "stay at home" restriction allowing citizens to only leave their homes for shopping for necessities, one form of exercise a day, medical needs, and essential travel to and from work that cannot be done remotely. He also announced non-essential shops including clothing and electronic stores and playgrounds, places of worship would be closed.

The British government will be leaving parks open for exercise however gatherings of more than two people are restricted.

People who do not comply would be fined.


Canada:
Canada has over 3,500 confirmed cases and 27 deaths. On March 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the country will be closing the border to anyone who is not a citizen, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The announcements comes after Trudeau has been self-isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus.

Since March 18 international flights are now permitted to land only at the international airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, in order to enhance screening, the CBC reported.

"To help asymptomatic Canadians to return home, our government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane," Trudeau said. "Canadian travelers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada."

Trudeau also confirmed at a press conference that he spoke with President Trump and has agreed to close the border to the U.S.


India:
India has a reported over 700 cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world's largest lockdown on March 24.

“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out,” Modi said, warning citizens to stay inside for 21 days, according to ABC News. Essential places like grocery stores, ATMs and gas stations will remain open.

The Taj Mahal is also closed.


Brazil:
Brazil has reported over 2,600 confirmed cases. Latin America's first case of coronavirus is a man who traveled home from Italy to Brazil in February, according to Brazil's health ministry, per CBS News. He is 61 and returned to Brazil on Feb. 21 from the Lombardo region of northern Italy.


Australia:
On Saturday March 22, Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced nationwide restrictions including closures of restaurants, gyms, and places of worship. Australians are also advised to avoid non-essential travel, as the country has over 2,800 cases of coronavirus, and a reported 13 deaths.

Anyone returning from overseas must quarantine for 14 days.

Under the new restrictions, gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside. However, schools are still open but parents have option as to whether they'd like their children to attend.

Actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson both tested positive while in Australia.

Australia's Department of Health has an ongoing active warning in regards to coronavirus, with strict travel restrictions to China.

On Christmas, in the beginning of the outbreak, Australia evacuated 270 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine in an immigration detention center, according to The New York Times.


New Zealand:
New Zealand is at a level 3 alert, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday afternoon local time, adding that the country would move to a level 4 in 48 hours to give residents time to "get things in order."

In the address, posted by New Zealand radio show NewstalkZB, Ardern said schools and non-essential services would be closed for the next four weeks across the country, where she said the number of coronavirus cases rose to 205 as of March 25. Public transportation will be available only for those working in essential services, or moving essential goods.
 
How are airlines responding to coronavirus?

Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from WHO. As time has gone on since the beginning of the outbreak, airlines have adapted to evolving restrictions and advisories to accommodate customers.

United, American, and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, which has suspended mainland China service until April 30.

American Airlines has announced a 75 percent reduction in international flights starting on March 16 to May 6, the airline announced in a press release. The airline will operate one flight a day from Dallas Fort Worth to London Heathrow, and Miami to Heathrow. They'll also fly from Dallas Fort Worth to Tokyo three times a week — all other remaining flights to Asia are suspended.

Specifically, the airline has previously announced that flights to Hong Kong are scheduled to begin again on July 2. Mainland China flights will return October 24. Flights to Seoul, South Korea are suspended through May 1.

In wake of the United States' implemented travel ban, "Heathrow, Dublin, and Manchester flights from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix will be suspended faster, as these airports are not approved gateways by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security," the release read. Flights from Charlotte, N.C. and Philadelphia to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid, Munich, and Zurich have been suspended, according to a prior press release. Flights from Dallas-Fort Worth, JFK, and Miami to Barcelona, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Paris were still available for up to seven days after Trump's announcement to ensure that Americans can get home and are now suspended until early May.

According to its travel alerts, the airline will waive change fees for customers who purchased tickets before March 1 for travel through April 30, no matter the destination. Customers who purchase tickets until March 31 will also not incur a change fee should they wish to alter their plans.

They are also adjusting their food and beverage service procedures in their club lounges by switching buffet style or self service to portion controlled or packaged options.


Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak?

The U.S. State Department issued a level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans that they should not travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.

Travel warnings for Italy and South Korea were increased from a Level 3 to a Level 4 on Saturday, advising Americans not to travel to infected areas.

To feel secure about any upcoming travel plans, communicate with your hotel and airline directly, and monitor updates and alerts for the current information in your destination.






Credit: Cailey Rizzo and Christine Burroni

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