The U.S. State Department raised the travel advisory for China to Level 4: Do Not Travel, now on par with travel advisories to North Korea, Iran, and Syria. This Level 4 increase came one day after the World Health Organization issued a global emergency due to the spread of the Coronavirus.
American Airlines has now suspended all flights into China until March 27. Delta has announced it will suspend flights to China through April. United followed suit and just announced they, too, will suspend flights to China through March. U.S. officials are considering temporarily halting all flights to China. If you have travel booked to China or other parts of Asia, know your options and stay updated.
What is Coronavirus?
The virus originated in Wuhan, China, but has spread rapidly in just a matter of weeks. Thousands have been sickened with the virus in more than a dozen countries worldwide, including several cases in the U.S one of which is a confirmed human to human transmission of the virus.
As of publication, more than 9,776 people had been infected with the coronavirus and over 213 had been killed, according to Johns Hopkins. Thus far, the vast majority of confirmed cases involve people who have passed through Wuhan, a massive city of 19 million people west of Shanghai. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, and shortness of breath.
While health officials worldwide are on high alert, it's worth stressing that the flu has been far more deadly. More than 8,000 people have been killed this flu season in the U.S. alone, according to public health figures.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering has a live map of the outbreak. This information can be helpful as the situation progresses to help you make choices about your travels.
Travel to China Suspended
On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of State increased the travel risk rating for China to Level 4. That means the U.S. is officially recommending that travelers do not travel to the entire country of China. Travel to China is now on par with travel advisories to countries including Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
The State Department is also advising travelers to expect travel restrictions to be put into place with little to no warning.
If you have any non-essential travel booked to, from, or through China, you should be able to alter or cancel your plans for free. Many major airlines – including U.S. carriers Delta, American, and United – have issued travel waivers for flights to and from China and have suspended flights to China.
American Airlines has now suspended all flights into China until March 27. Delta has announced it will suspend flights to China through April. United just announced they, too, will suspend flights to China through March. Several international airlines have also suspended flights to China, and we expect all other U.S. carriers will follow suit shortly.
What About the Rest of Asia?
Most cases have been related to travel to and from China, but the World Health Organization has now declared a global health emergency.
The United States has not altered any travel advisories for countries outside of China, but other countries in Asia are on high alert. There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hong Kong.
Should you cancel an upcoming trip to Asia? This is a bit more of a grey area, and ultimately depends on your own health and comfort level with the risk. Currently, airlines have not issued travel waivers for areas outside of China. At this point, you may not be able to get any portion of your trip refunded unless your travel plans pass through China.
If you are traveling to Asia in the coming weeks or months, be sure to closely monitor the situation. Travelers with pre-existing health conditions or poor immune systems may want to reconsider or discuss with their doctor.
Thrifty Tip: Stay updated and protect yourself for upcoming travel to Asia amidst the outbreak.
Air travel to China in the coming months on major carriers like American, Delta, and United have been suspended. If you have upcoming travel to China, be sure to check for flight cancellations or suspensions.