To date, 259 people have died in China from the coronavirus (nCoV) and 11,857 cases have been reported in all regions of mainland China, as well as 162 more cases in 26 other countries (including Hong Kong and Macau). The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.
“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China, but what is happening in other countries,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO. “In the last few days the progress of the virus, especially in some countries, especially human-to-human transmission, worries us. Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.”
The EU has taken measures at a time when eight cases of infected persons have been detected – four in France and four in Germany – by activating a mechanism that enables Member States to improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters, both natural and man-made. Within the framework of this mechanism’s activation, the EU may go to extra lengths to prevent the virus from further spreading into its territory.
Sources within the EU have confirmed that the block is preparing to tighten entry conditions for Chinese nationals and those who have travelled to China in recent months, in a bid to prevent the situation getting out of control. To date there are no reported cases in Ireland, but two cases have recently been confirmed in Britain.
Some international airlines, including British Airways and Lufthansa, have stopped operating their routes to China, while others have scaled back. United Airlines and Cathay Pacific are restricting flights, while Lion Air is stopping flights to China from Saturday.
About 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew on the cruise ship Costa Smeralda, which was docked in Civitavecchia (near Rome), on which a husband and wife from China were put in isolation after the couple came down with a fever and breathing difficulties. The two have been checked by doctors and undergone tests and the quarantine has been lifted.
Wendy Wu Tours
John Booty of Wendy Wu Tours, the largest operator of ex-Ireland tours to China, told ITTN: “We are in constant communication with our offices in China and giving updates on our website to all partners and mutual clients. The support and co-operation we are receiving from the trade and consumers is amazing.
“Dr Zhong Nanshan, the medical expert behind the speedy elimination of SARS and the leading doctor on the current coronavirus, has stated that the virus should reach a peak in a week to 10 days and it will not increase on a large scale.
“We are carefully monitoring the current travel advice, in line with our forthcoming tour departures, on a daily basis. At the moment the travel advice to China is to avoid all travel to Hubei Province as well as all but essential travel to mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). Currently some sightseeing attractions are temporarily closed owing to the extended New Year celebrations.
“The current travel advice is relevant for travel to China now, i.e in the next few days, and is changing on a daily basis. We are fully expecting the travel advice to be revised again shortly and will update as soon as this information changes.
“We will contact everyone travelling with us to China during February if there are any changes to their travel plans. Travel to China beyond February is currently planned to operate as normal. Our passengers’ health and wellbeing are always our top priority and we continue to carefully monitor this situation.”