Travelling to the Asia-Pacific region? Here's a travel advisory on the Coronavirus outbreak

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 23, 2020

A thermal screeening device for passengers arriving in India from China including Hong Kong in view of outbreak of Novel coronavirus (CoV) in China, at T3 of IGi airport in New Delhi   -  PTI

Screening at multiple airports could cause disruptions in travel

As the threat of the possible spread of a deadly Novel Corona Virus Disease (nCoV) looms large, several countries in the Asia-Pacific region have implemented passenger screening that may lead to travel disruptions, International SOS - an international agency tracking travel risk assessment - has stated in its latest travel advisory.

China, which first reported the SARS-like virus, has warned that the virus could undergo mutation and spread. The death-toll in China has reached nine, with the number of infected cases crossing 400, primarily in Wuhan and Guangdong, besides other neighbouring provinces.

Travellers to countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam have been advised to anticipate travel disruptions due to screening measures being implemented by their respective authorities.

Screening at Indian airports

In India, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has directed the immediate implementation of systems to screen passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi.

In its travel advisory, International SOS stated, "The authorities imposed comprehensive health screening measures on January 21-22 at airports in several countries across the region, following an increase in the reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases. Such measures apply particularly to passengers arriving at these airports from China, after the country's authorities confirmed that the virus can spread via human transmission."

"Infections have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, Macao, South Korea and Taiwan. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not announced travel restriction requirements, members should anticipate travel disruption at airports," it added.

While no country in the Asia-Pacific has imposed travel restrictions, increased screening measures, which primarily involve temperature checks, have been implemented at various airports.

The WHO is to hold an emergency meeting in Geneva on January 22 to decide whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

International SOS advisory

In its advisory, International SOS, the $1.5-billion privately-owned French agency tracking global travel security and risks, has suggested that travellers allow additional time when passing through airports in the region, taking into account temperature and health screening.

Passengers travelling or transiting through China should anticipate more stringent scrutiny; follow official directives.

Travellers who are sick should reconsider travel; they face the risk of quarantine and testing.

Monitor the latest information on the virus, as well as quarantine and isolation procedures being implemented at airports at your destination and the point of origin.

More airports in the region are expected to increase health screening measures, which may cause travel delays.

Similar measures are also likely at land borders, as is being done at the Poipet checkpoint (Cambodia) on the Cambodia-Thailand border, and the border crossings to Myanmar, International SOS noted.

Published on January 22, 2020

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