The Department of Health has implemented new measures in the UK giving police officers authority to handcuff and force people into quarantine where necessary. The new regulations came into place after one British patient threatened to escape from the Arrowe Park facility where patients are being quarantined for coronavirus. There are now 8 confirmed cases in the UK.
A staff member in a GP practice in Brighton has tested positive for the virus, resulting in the practice being temporarily shut down. UK government officials have now declared coronavirus, ‘a serious and imminent threat to public health.’
A passenger on easyJet flight EZS8481, from Geneva to Gatwick, tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting health officials to locate other passengers seated on the flight in close proximity to the affected passenger. This is currently ongoing and further information can be found on the easyJet website.
How has coronavirus affected airlines?
Travel restrictions have been put in place as a result of the outbreak with a number of airlines suspending flights until the threat diminishes.
British Airways has cancelled all flights to Beijing and Shanghai until 31st March 2020, whilst returning flights from Beijing and Shanghai have been cancelled until 1st April 2020.
Virgin Atlantic has now released a statement on its website for passengers who are due to travel to Hong Kong:
“If you are due to travel to Hong Kong and have visited China (excluding Macau) in the past 14 days, you will not be allowed to travel.”
Passengers with flight-only bookings will be able to claim a full refund on all unused parts of their tickets and partial refunds for journey’s that have already commenced. Those that have booked a package holiday will need to contact their tour operator or travel agent directly to arrange a refund.
How has coronavirus affected cruise lines?
The Caribbean Princess, owned by Princess Cruises, will be taking extra caution as one of its ships has been forced to return to Fort Lauderdale. Over 300 people on board were taken ill with a vomiting bug. It is believed, 229 passengers and 22 crew are suffering from sickness, vomiting and diarrhoea. As a precaution, the ship was denied entry to ports at Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. The travel company released a statement on their website regarding the situation:
“The quarantine end date remains at February 19, unless there are any unforeseen developments.”
The cruise line is offering a 50% refund to its guests and a credit note valued at 50% for their future cruises for the inconvenience.
Royal Caribbean Cruises are also putting measures in place to protect their guests and crew against coronavirus. The company are refusing boarding to passengers and crew members who hold passports from China, Hong Kong or Macao. The cruise line has also issued a statement informing passengers of their rights if they no longer wish to travel:
“If you choose not to sail, we completely understand and you may cancel and receive a full refund. You do not need to do anything to cancel, no need to call or contact us for this, as we want to make it as easy for you as possible.” More information can be found on their website.
Whilst Norwegian Cruise Lines will also be denying passengers with a passport from China, Hong Kong and Macao, the cruise company have said:
“Guests who have travelled from visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 30 days of their voyage embarkation, regardless of nationality, will not be allowed to board any of our vessels.”
Coronavirus impact on China
The coronavirus has now claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people and a further 42,000 have been infected. Hong Kong has suspended cross-border rail and ferry services in an attempt to stem the virus spreading.
In addition to this, China has implemented a number of transportation closures and is no longer issuing visas for individual travellers to Hong Kong. In a bid to raise awareness, the country has launched an app that allows people to check if they are at risk of catching the coronavirus. The ‘close contact detector’ will alert users if they have been in close proximity to an individual who has either been confirmed or suspected to have the virus. The app is activated when users register their phone numbers and it can then be used to check the status of up to three ID members.
Holidaymakers who have either a package holiday or who have booked through a travel agent should bear in mind, they are not likely to receive compensation for any holidays they have booked in the distant future. Once the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) lift the ban on travel to affected areas, travel will resume as normal.