Over the past week, it has been announced that 213 people have died due to the coronavirus outbreak in China, whilst thousands more have contracted the virus. A global emergency has now been put in place. Britain’s exit from the EU is due to take place at 23:00 (GMT) tonight and discussions of what will happen after the transition period are on-going. Authorities in the Australia Capital Territory (ATC) have declared a state of emergency as a bushfire in south Canberra has scorched over 18,500 hectares.
Continue reading for further updates:
Coronavirus, now a global emergency
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global emergency as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread outside of China. According to WHO, there are 98 cases in 18 other countries but no deaths, whilst at least 213 people have died in China. There have been 2 confirmed cases in the UK, but details are yet to be released.
Meanwhile 6,000 passengers, that were previously stranded onboard a cruise ship in Italy, have been permitted to disembark after a 54-year-old Chinese woman and her husband was thought to have contracted the coronavirus disease. After being held in isolation yesterday, tests were carried out by Italian doctors which confirmed that neither of the passengers were infected.
British Airways, has cancelled flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai with immediate effect until 29th February 2020, following the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office against all but essential travel to mainland China. In addition, Virgin Atlantic has suspended flights between the UK and Shanghai for two weeks starting from Sunday 2nd February 2020. The airline’s final return flight to the UK will be arriving at Heathrow on Monday 3rd February 2020. Airlines including KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, Finnair, United, Delta and American Airlines are also suspending flights to mainland Chinese destinations. Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are offering to re-book, re-route or refund passengers who are due to travel between these times.
Passengers who were due to return home from China on Thursday 30th 2020 are set to be returning home today. Passengers will fly into RAF Brize Norton before UK nationals are quarantined at a centre, believed to be Arrowe Park Hospital, in Wirral. Prior to leaving Wuhan, passengers will be checked by Chinese officials. BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym states ‘passengers would be taken to NHS staff accommodation’ they will then be put in “supported isolation” for 14 days with all “necessary medical attention”.
Meanwhile, the risk level has been raised from low to moderate by four UK Chief Medical Officers.
Brexit Day is finally here
Brexit day is here however, not much is due to change until end of the transition period on the 31st December 2020. Prime minster Boris Johnson, will be giving a video message at 22:00 GMT, an hour before we leave the EU. Many EU laws are set to continue as normal until the end of December, by which time the prime minster intends to reach a permanent free trade agreement. According to the BBC, Johnson has described Brexit as “not an end but a beginning”.
Travel to European countries will remain the same during the transition period. Holidaymakers will be able to use their passports as normal until 31st December 2020. The EHIC, flights, data roaming and pet transport will also continue to operate as normal until the end of the transition period. Holidaymakers should always make sure they take out a suitable travel insurance for their needs to protect them when travelling abroad. Read more about travelling abroad post-Brexit here: Brexit advice for holidaymakers
Australia in a state of emergency as bushfires continue
Australia has been suffering from blazing bushfires since September last year and has now declared a state of emergency for the Canberra region. Officials have stated these are the worse fire in nearly two decades with over 18,500 hectares burning territory’s in the south. Residents have been put on alert for potential evacuation. The on-going fires in Canberra have prompted the shutdown of Canberra’s airport as the blaze threatened to breach its perimeter. More than 11 million hectares of land have been burnt since the fires first began.
Those due to travel to affected regions, whose flight has been cancelled/delayed, should contact their airline who will either; offer alternative travel dates or refund any unused parts of the ticket. Provided the trip was booked as part of a package holiday the tour operator or travel agent will be responsible for providing a suitable alternative or refunding the cost of the trip. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising holidaymakers to ‘stay safe, monitor TV news, radio and social media channels for updates, and follow the instructions and advice of local authorities.’