Chinese authorities have quarantined the city of Wuhan in an effort to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. All departing flights have been canceled, as well as trains and other forms of mass transportation.
What are the details?
The Coronavirus so far has infected over 500 people and killed 17, with the ground zero of the virus beginning in the Chinese city of Wuhan. In a move to help World Health Organisation officials contain the outbreak, the Chinese Government has suspended all travel from the 11 million person city.
The Chinese newspaper, People’s Daily, announced this measure via twitter this morning.
No people in #Wuhan, C China's Hubei will be allowed to leave the city starting 10 a.m. of Jan. 23. Train stations and airport will shut down; the city bus, subway, ferry and long-distance shuttle bus will also be temporarily closed: local authority #WuhanPneumonia #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/8pohJ4Uixo
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) January 22, 2020
It is not clear what this actually means for flights inbound to the city of Wulan. It’s not clear if inbound flights are still allowed to arrive, or if airlines are being asked to cancel flights entirely.
The ‘airport shutdown’ is believed to go into effect at 10:00 AM local time, which is 2:00 AM UTC. There is no date or time set for services to resume.
So far, many airlines are still showing scheduled routes to the city and have not yet decided on canceling their flights or if they will fly back empty aircraft. As it is still early morning in China at the time of publishing, likely the authorities to make these calls have not yet fully analyzed the situation.
Previously, airlines had offered passengers a ‘get-out-of-flight-free-card’ with a full refund offered for those who didn’t want to fly. This was because the Chinese government requested that airlines “attach great importance to the prevention of the pneumonia outbreak”.
Simple Flying has reached out to Cathay Pacific, who has a flight to Wuhan tomorrow morning, for comment. We will update the article as soon as we receive word back.
How are other airports preparing?
Other airports are making preparations for any flights that are flying in from Wuhan, or greater China.
Airports in the United States are rolling out health screening at arrival halls at San Francisco Airport, Los Angeles Airport and New York’s JFK Airport.
Heathrow Airport is setting aside a special arrivals area just for passengers from Wuhan, where they can be scanned for increase body temperature or other symptoms of the virus.
“The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is always our main priority and we are working with the Government to support the implementation of enhanced monitoring measures as a precaution,” a spokesperson for Heathrow said in a statement.
“We would like to reassure passengers that the Government assesses the risk of a traveler contracting Coronavirus to be low. We would encourage anyone with individual questions or concerns to refer to guidance from Public Health England and the Foreign Office.”
The virus mainly spreads from person to person through close proximity and personal contact. Unlike SARS, a virus that this new outbreak is linked to, the virus struggles to move through the air. The virus is believed to have originated from a meat market in Wuhan and has evolved to be transmitted from human to human.
What do you think of this news? Is your flight canceled? Let us know in the comments.