As the novel coronavirus spreads, so do precautions.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against nonessential travel to China. The U.S. State Department’s China information page says, “Reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.” Its travel advisory for the country is at Level 3; the warning level for Wuhan’s Hubei province is at 4 (“Do not travel” ).
What does all this mean for travelers?
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and about 20 other U.S. airports, are screening passengers for the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization declared a global emergency on Thursday. Screenings should not slow down departing passengers.
Delta has suspended all flights between the U.S. and China between Feb. 6 and April 30. Other airlines, including British Airways, have suspended China flights.
Domestic and international flights outside of China, should be fine. Dr. William Spangler, global medical director with Houston-based travel insurance company AIG Travel, noted that neither the WHO nor the CDC have any bans in place for such flights. The WHO, a United Nations agency, noted that trade with China need not be adversely affected, even as it declared the global emergency.
Spangler said that fliers should wipe down tray tables and other surfaces at seats with disinfectant wipes, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces or “picking their nose.”
“Usual precautions against viruses like the flu have taken on greater urgency,” he said.
Spangler also said that our understanding of the new virus is bound to grow, and travel recommendations may change. Travelers can check updates from the State Department at travel.state.gov and from the CDC at cdc.gov/coronavirus.