Since reports of the coronavirus surfaced in late December, more than 100,000 people have been infected and over 3,000 have died around the world. As the virus continues to have a global impact, the U.S. government has established travel advisories, leading airlines and cruises to cancel their routes.
Cities in China — specifically Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province, where the virus originated in December — have been under quarantine, while 26 deaths have been confirmed in the United States.
Here is everything you need to know about traveling right now.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, within the Hubei province of China. The World Health Organization announced on Feb. 12 that the official name for the specific strain of coronavirus is Covid-19.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.
The doctor who first discovered this strain of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, died at age 34 of the disease on Feb. 7. China quickly launched an investigation into his death, according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.
"We express our deep condolences and sadness, pay our tribute to him for fighting on the front line against the epidemic, and show our sincere sympathy to his family," government reps said in the statement.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You'll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.
What can you do to prevent coronavirus?
General flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Extra measures include sanitizing commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or sprays. Also avoid close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.
When eating, be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs.
The number of confirmed cases and deaths below are a part of Johns Hopkins University's real-time map from their Center for Systems Science and Engineering department, unless otherwise noted.
The overwhelming majority of coronavirus cases are still within mainland China, with over 80,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths.
The city of Wuhan has been completely quarantined from the rest of China, with transportation links cut. Streets and shelves are empty, as residents are urged to go outside only for essential supplies. There have also been makeshift hospitals put in place to accommodate all patients.
Now, three months into the outbreak, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported the first cured case of coronavirus.
Still, museums are closed until further notice, and China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse.
There are seven cases of coronavirus confirmed in Hong Kong.
Elsewhere in Asia:
South Korea has had the biggest outbreak outside of China, with nearly 7,500 cases. Fifty-three people have died since the first case was confirmed on Jan. 20. However Johns Hopkins reports that 118 people have recovered from the virus.
In Japan, there are 511 confirmed cases and 17 deaths. In what became a major story surrounding the outbreak, a majority of the confirmed cases were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was recently quarantined while docked in the Yokohama port. Four passengers, who were taken off the ship and hospitalized passed away. They were all above 80 years old. Japan officials also decided to close schools amid the outbreak.
According to the CDC, South Korea has a Level 3 travel advisory, encouraging people to avoid all nonessential travel. Meanwhile, Japan has a Level 2 travel advisory, meaning travelers should practice enhanced precautions while on the ground.
Taiwan reported its first death on Feb. 16. According to its health minister, he was a 61-year-old taxi driver who regularly drove clients from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China, Reuters reported. He also had a relative who was confirmed to have coronavirus.
The country — that has 45 cases of coronavirus — has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China, as well as suspended most flights. Those who have an urgent need to travel to Taiwan must appear at a consulate in their city and prove that they have not been to mainland China within the past 14 days. Those who have visited and were already granted visas are instructed to self-impose a quarantine; failure to do so is punishable by an almost $5,000 fine. Taiwan has also banned all cruise ships from docking at its ports.
Hong Kong has 115 confirmed cases, Thailand has 50,Vietnam has 30.
The United States:
There are over 700 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 26 deaths.
According to The New York Times, the virus has reached 34 states from coast to coast with New York hosting the highest number of cases at 142 as of March 9.
Twenty-two of the 142 cases stem from New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on March 9. Cases have spiked to 98 in Westchester County, the suburb north of the city, which includes two families. On March 9, it was confirmed that the Head of Port Authority, a major transportation hub for New York and New Jersey commuters, tested positive for the virus, according to the CNN.
While majority of deaths are confirmed among elderly in Washington state, New York, Florida, Hawaii, California and Oregon have declared a state of emergency.
During a White House Press conference following the United States' first death in Washington state on Feb. 29, the Trump administration subsequently asked the State Department to increase their travel advisory for infected parts of Italy and South Korea to a Level 4 "do not travel" warning.
As cases circulate around the country, the CDC has warned that many cases may be instances of “community spread,” which means “spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.”
“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown … however, the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected,” the CDC explained.
Amid the outbreak, airports around the country, including JFK and LAX, have rerouted passengers coming in from China to screening centers. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination, although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Italy has over 9,172 cases confirmed and over 400 deaths. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte took the extreme measure to place the whole country under lockdown after first quarantining northern regions of the country. Tourist attractions like the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, museums and nightclubs are closed. When the virus first emerged in Italy, the scare prompted Venice's Carnival to end early as well as adjustments in how shows were viewed during Milan Fashion Week.
Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have suspended flights to Milan, Italy. Delta will resume flights in May and American will resume flights in April.
Elsewhere in the EU, France has a confirmed 1,209 cases and 19 deaths, prompting the Louvre to close briefly. Other countries that been affected by the virus include Germany, which has over 1,150 cases, and Spain, which has 979.
The United Kingdom has 51 confirmed cases and one confirmed death. The late individual was a passenger on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to The Guardian.
India has a reported 43 cases. According to CNN, most of the cases came from people traveling from Italy and three of the people diagnosed have recovered. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters that a containment plan was in the works as a large cluster of people diagnosed are in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Wednesday that he will not be participating in Holi festivities in accordance with advice to "reduce mass gatherings."
Latin America's first case of coronavirus is man who traveled home from Italy to Brazil, according to Brazil's health ministry, per CBS News. He is 61 and returned to Brazil on Feb. 21 from the Lombardo region of Italy. Brazil now has 25 reported cases.
Australia's Department of Health has an ongoing "active" warning in regards to coronavirus, with strict travel restrictions to China. According to Smartraveller, a government-run advice website, Australia is also advising residents to "exercise a high degree of caution" in northern Italy. The country has a confirmed 85 cases of coronavirus, 15 which were traced to Wuhan, China.. Nineteen people have died.
On Christmas, in the beginning of the outbreak, Australia evacuated 243 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine in an immigration detention center, according to The New York Times.
How are airlines responding to coronavirus?
Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from the World Health Organization.
Most recently, American Airlines announced that it will waive fees for passengers changing their flights due to the outbreak. Specifically, the airline will waive change fees for up to 14 days prior to travel for customers who purchase flights between March 1 and March 16.
JetBlue announced that they are suspending change and cancel fees for all new flight bookings made between Feb. 27, 2020 and March 11, 2020 for travel through June 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, Delta announced on March 4 that is is decreasing service to Japan in addition to its prior announcement that they have also reduced the number of weekly flights between the U.S. and South Korea.
In an email sent to customers by the airline's CEO, Ed Bastian, he assured customers that they are taking all precautions to keep passengers healthy and also provided a list of precautions they're taking including providing hand sanitizer, and a new disinfecting protocol, known as "fogging," for cabins.
JetBlue has also enlisted extra precautions in a list posted to their website, as well as suspending change or cancellation fees for bookings made between March 6 and March 31 for travel by Sept. 8.
United, American, and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, which has suspended mainland China service until April 30.
In a statement, Lufthansa Group (including Austrian Airlines and Swiss) said they will not accept new bookings to China through the end of February, however the airlines will continue to operate flights to Hong Kong. British Airways announced an “immediate” suspension of flights to mainland China.
British Airways also announced that they were reducing flights to Milan following the outbreak there. The British airline usually flies to Milan eight times a day, according to Reuters. The airline said they would contact customers to make accommodations for the change.
Air Canada has also temporarily suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
All airlines will continue to monitor the situation and may alter their schedules should there be any change in the situation in China. Many airlines are still operating flights to Hong Kong. Travelers should contact their airline directly for more information.
Airlines are also looking out for their employees. Flight attendants on Cathay Pacific were first told to wear masks while working and have now been asked to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and the end of June, due to a “significant” drop in demand for flights.
Thai Airways is practicing extreme precautions by spraying down cabins with a disinfectant after each flight.
How are cruise lines responding to coronavirus?
Cruise Lines International Association, whose members include many international cruise lines, said in a statement that its members “have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has traveled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.”
While cruise lines have released their own safety regulations regarding how they're handling the outbreak, isolated incidents have occurred on various ships.
The Diamond Princess ship in Japan that was quarantined from Feb. 1 to Feb. 15 in a port near Tokyo had 634 cases on board. Quarantined passengers in critical condition were removed from the ship and hospitalized. The ship, which was carrying about 3,700 people, started their process to disembark last week.
Another cruise ship that was under quarantine earlier this month was Holland America's Westerdam, which left Hong Kong on Feb. 1. It was denied disembarkment in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and Thailand. The cruise ship always asserted that its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board were healthy. Passengers aboard the cruise ship who have returned to the United States no longer need to isolate themselves and can resume normal activities, according to the CDC, The New York Times reported.
On Feb. 10, a Royal Caribbean cruise docked in Bayonne, New Jersey — 20 miles away from New York City — with passengers that will be assessed for coronavirus as they disembark. On Monday, the cruise left the port after four passengers suspected to have coronavirus tested negative, according to CNN.
For future cruise plans to China, the managing editor of Cruise Critic recently told Travel + Leisure, "It’s best to contact your cruise line or travel advisor directly with any questions or concerns. All cruise lines that have canceled cruises are offering affected guests the option to receive a full refund.”
For future trips, Royal Caribbean announced a new policy where they'll allow ticketholders to cancel within 48 hours.
"The 'Cruise With Confidence' policy allows guests on Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea to cancel up to 48 hours before a sailing," their announcement read. "Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest’s choice in 2020 or 2021.
Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak?
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department issued a level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans that they should not travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.
Travel warnings for Italy and South Korea were increased from a Level 3 to a Level 4 on Saturday, advising Americans not to travel to infected areas.
To feel secure about any upcoming travel plans, communicate with your hotel and airline directly, and monitor updates and alerts for the current information in your destination.