Virus: BA cancels all flights – More than 6,000 ill

BA har just announced, that the airline will cancel all flights to China, at least until March, due to the virus. Also Finnair has cancelled two routes to China and American airlines are on the way to do so.

China announced that all group tours from the country would be halted starting from Monday in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

More than 56 million people in almost 20 cities are affected by travel restrictions, which have been introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The death toll in China from the coronavirus outbreak has climbed to over 100, local media reported China’s National Health Commission announced 688 new confirmed cases, 1,309 new suspected cases and 15 deaths from the disease (13 in Hubei, one in Shanghai and one in Henan) in the past 24 hours.

The virus originated in Wuhan city — the capital of Hubei — and has now spread across 29 provinces in the country. Over 20 cases were reported in Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Malaysia, Nepal, Australia,Germany and Vietnam.

Hong Kong classified the outbreak as an “emergency” — the city’s highest warning tier. Following the announcement, Hong Kong’s theme parks; Disneyland and Ocean Park announced that they were closing its doors until further notice. Shanghai’s Disneyland also closed from Saturday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 2020 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon has also been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong has closed its high-speed rail link to mainland China and suspended permits for Chinese tourists visiting the territory after the territory confirmed six cases of coronavirus.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said rail and other cross-border train services would be cancelled from January 30 and the number of flights cut in half.

Bus routes will also be reduced while  some boundary crossings have been shut.

The advice from Scandinavian foreign Offices this week hardened its China guidance to advise against all travel to China due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The provincial capital of Wuhan is where the deadly virus broke out, with the death toll now up to 106 across China with more than 6,000 confirmed ill.

Travel restrictions have been tightened and wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some cities.

All transport hubs including airports, railway and bus stations, have been closed in Wuhan and travel restrictions are in place in other cities in Hubei Province.

Many tourist attractions are closed. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has suspended all tour group companies’ activities to prevent further virus spread.

Public Health England has offered advice to travellers and the FCO has urged visitors to comply with any additional screening measures put in place by local authorities.

The FCO said it is also “working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province”.


British Airways is offering customers due to fly to or from anywhere in China, including Hong Kong, full refunds or the option to rebook.

The airline said: “We fully understand that you may want to change your travel plans as a result of the recent coronavirus outbreak in China, and so whilst we await further advice from the government and health organisations, we are offering any customers due to fly to or from China including Hong Kong until 23 February the option to refund or rebook.”

Singapore Airlines is waiving all cancellation and change fees for passengers with tickets issued prior to January 24 for travel to and from mainland China up to and including February 29.

“We also have in place a set of standard operating procedures to handle various in-flight medical emergencies, including potentially infectious diseases,” the airline said in a statement.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon has suspended flights to and from Wuhan until March 31.

The Cathay Pacific subsidiary is continuing to run flights to other mainland China destinations, but timings and schedules are subject to change.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to coordinate with the health authorities in Hong Kong and in all the ports to which we operate flights,” the airline said.

“Our customer services team will be assisting affected passengers to refund their bookings or postpone their travel plans.

Iata said it is closely monitoring developments related to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

The airline trade body said it is “actively engaged with the World Health Organisation secretariat, ICAO and the US Centres for Disease Control”.

Iata added: “WHO is advising measures to limit the risk of export or import of the disease, without unnecessary restrictions on international traffic.

“Airlines are prepared to work with public health authorities when there are outbreaks of communicable diseases with well-developed standards and best practices.”

Tour operators

Wendy Wu Tours founder Wendy Wu is confident the outbreak of the coronavirus will be contained quickly as a result of the “lightening speed” it is being dealt with by the Chinese authorities.

The operator has no escorted group tours travelling or scheduled to depart for China from the UK until the end of February due to the Chinese New Year period, which is a particularly busy time for domestic travel and lasts until January 25.

Kuoni said most of its clients due to travel are booked onto small group escorted tours in March and it is “keeping a close eye on the situation” and calling customers due to travel.

Cruise lines

Costa suspended nine upcoming cruises that were scheduled to depart from China between Jan. 25 and Feb. 4, Royal Caribbean canceled the Jan. 27 and Jan. 31 Spectrum of the Seas sailings, and MSC canceled the MSC Splendida’s Jan. 28 sailing from Shanghai.

Some lines are also making changes to their onboard screening protocols for ships worldwide.

Carnival Corp. said it is coordinating closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to implement recommended screening, prevention and control measures for all brands. These include pre-boarding health reporting for all passengers, temperature and questionnaire screening for persons from affected areas and denial of boarding as necessary.

Passengers who visit onboard medical centers for respiratory cases will be evaluated for the illness as well, Carnival Corp. said.

Carnival Corp. brands include Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa, Seabourn and Cunard.