Several international airlines have paused their flights to South Korea as the northern Asian country has emerged as the most troubling area for coronavirus cases outside of mainland China.
Nearly 1,000 cases of the fast-spreading virus have been confirmed in South Korea, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Eleven people in South Korea have died from coronavirus. More than 77,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in China, as of publication – accounting for almost 97 percent of all cases worldwide.
Yet South Korea is still on edge – as are health officials worldwide about the spread of the virus there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a level 3 warning for South Korea this week, urging to reconsider all nonessential travel. The U.S. State Department has issued a level 2 travel advisory for South Korea, meaning travelers should exercise increased caution.
Thus far, no major U.S. airlines have canceled flights to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) as they have with flights to China and Hong Kong. But Delta, United, and American have all issued travel waivers for flights to South Korea.
Meanwhile, other airlines are halting flights to South Korea altogether. Air Asia X and Vietnam's Bamboo Airways have stopped flying to Seoul. As fear about containing the virus in South Korea grows, that list may get larger.
Coronavirus is the name for a broader family of viruses, including the SARS virus that killed more than 700 in the early 2000s. This latest coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and it’s a novel virus – meaning it’s never been seen before.
Coronavirus remains at its worst in mainland China, and that won't change. But South Korea has become the latest country with heightened concerns for health officials, airlines, and travelers.