Coronavirus Outbreak Explained and Travel Advice – LIVE

Governments worldwide have relevant advice regarding coronavirus |
Governments worldwide have relevant advice regarding coronavirus | | © Didier ZYLBERYNG / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip explains everything you need to know about Covid-19 and its impact on travel around the world.

Latest Frequently Asked Questions

Are Brits still allowed to travel?

The UK Foreign Office has extended its advisory against non-essential travel anywhere outside the UK indefinitely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-March, the Foreign Office warned Brits against all non-essential travel for 30 days. This initial ban was due to run until 16 April, but has now been extended with no end date mentioned.

The UK authorities announced in a tweet over the weekend: “Travel update: The Foreign Office indefinitely advises against all non-essential global travel.”

A video accompanying the tweet stated: “We now advise against all non-essential global travel – indefinitely. The situation is changing rapidly. Travellers could face severe disruption and be unable to return to the UK.”

What’s the economic impact on the travel industry?

Up to 75 million jobs are at immediate risk in global travel and tourism due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The figure shows a GDP loss in the travel and tourism sector to the world economy of up to $2.1 trillion in 2020.

The latest projection of a 50 percent increase in jobs at risk, in less than two weeks, represents a significant trend, with an alarming 1 million jobs being lost every day across travel and tourism, according to the WTTC.

The analysis by the WTTC reveals the following projected impact:
• The Asia-Pacific region is expected to be most heavily impacted with up to 49 million jobs at risk throughout the region, representing a loss of nearly $800 billion to travel and tourism GDP.
• Up to 10 million jobs in travel and tourism across Europe are at risk, totalling a loss of nearly $552 billion.
• The Americas are also expected to be hit hard by this crisis, with the United States, Canada and Mexico predicted to lose up to $570 billion combined, with nearly 7 million jobs in travel and tourism at risk.

Is it still safe to travel?

Things are changing very rapidly when it comes to international travel. However, many governments across the globe are now discouraging all but essential travel to overseas destinations.

The US State Department, for example, has released a Global Level 4 Health Advisory that warns citizens they should avoid all international travel.

Which countries have coronavirus travel restrictions in place?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) website regularly updates a list of countries and regions where restrictions are in place. Many of the restrictions include: no entry for non-residents, automatic 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival at the passenger’s expense, and a medical certificate issued by local health authorities stating the passengers are fit for travel and free from respiratory disease.

Which flights are being cancelled due to coronavirus?

The spread of coronavirus has discouraged people from travelling overseas, resulting in a number of flight cancellations across the airline industry.

The Independent reports on all the airlines that have reduced their routes. Plus, Forbes has a comprehensive list of all major airline coronavirus change-and-cancellation policies.

To find out about a specific airline route, as well as rebooking, refund or cancellation policies, check with the International Air Travel Association.

Where can I find out about airlines and airports affected by the viral outbreak?

Airport-technology.com, a website reporting on airport and airline news across the globe, provides up-to-date information on which airlines are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and what measures airports are taking to stop its spread.

What will happen with my hotel reservation?

Forbes has a running list of major hotel chains, detailing how they have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and giving up-to-date change and cancellation policies.

Along with a list of cancellation policies, travel management platform TravelPerk provides general tips on how to change hotel bookings.

Airbnb provides the latest news on the impact of coronavirus, including cancellation policies, advice to hosts on how to keep their properties safe and guidelines on how to house Covid-19 responders.

How can I protect myself while travelling?

The World Health Organization lists the best tips to stay safe during the Covid-19 outbreak, including washing your hands regularly (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser), avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and stay at least a metre away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.

Should I be wearing a mask while travelling?

The World Health Organization has issued clear guidelines on the use of masks during the coronavirus outbreak, stating that they should be worn:
• If you are taking care of a person with a suspected infection
• If you are sick and showing symptoms

However, as the BBC reports, widespread mask-wearing – seen across many Asian countries – can act as a ‘behavioural signal’ to you and others for improved personal hygiene and social distancing.

What is the impact on travel insurance?

It depends on your national government’s current advice. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), “anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance”.

If you want to cancel a trip to areas the government has not advised against all-but-essential travel to, you run the risk of not getting a refund.

This is because travel insurance is not designed to cover “disinclination to travel”, which would be the case while the UK government hasn’t advised against travel to the area, said the ABI.

Which events in the sports and entertainment calendar have been affected?

As the Covid-19 outbreak spreads globally, it has had a major impact on the sports and entertainment world. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Euro 2020 have both been postponed until 2021.

The New York Times reports on the list of major sporting and cultural events that have been affected as a result of coronavirus.

For the first time in over 70 years, the five festivals that transform Edinburgh into the world’s leading cultural destination every August will not go ahead this year due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edinburgh Art Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will not happen as planned in 2020.

In total, the August festivals comprise over 5,000 events across Scotland’s capital each summer – welcoming audiences of 4.4 million and over 25,000 artists, writers and performers from 70 countries – making them the second biggest cultural event in the world after the Olympics.

For the first time since World War II, the Wimbledon tennis championships – due to take place from 29 June to 12 July – have been cancelled.

“It is with great regret that the main board of the All England Club and the committee of management of the championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a statement.

Which museums are closed due to Covid-19?

The Art Newspaper provides up-to-date news on which cultural institutions have temporarily shut their doors on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information, check the website of the cultural institution in question.

How can I help while social distancing?

Social distancing – maintaining physical distance from other people (approximately 6 feet or 2 metres) – has been enforced in multiple countries, including the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Gov.uk defines social distancing as “temporarily reducing socialising in public places such as entertainment or sports events, reducing our use of non-essential public transport or recommending more home working”.

At least 20 per cent of the world’s population is currently on some form of lockdown, while India has just announced a 21-day lockdown that will keep its 1.3 billion citizens at home.

Despite this, there are still ways to help your local community from a distance. In the UK, a group of volunteers have set up Covid Mutual Aid UK in order to provide aid to local communities. You can find details of your local Facebook page and WhatsApp group here.

Meanwhile, Beauty Banks – a charity that supplies essential toiletries to people in poverty – launched an emergency virus-related appeal on Sunday to raise money for soap, hand sanitiser and washing powder for those who don’t have the money to stockpile. They have since raised £70,000 ($85,683).

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What’s the latest in Europe, the Middle East and Africa?

• German output shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020, according to official data. The quarter-on-quarter contraction is “the worst since the financial crisis” in 2009, the federal statistics office Destatis said.

• Slovenia has become the first European country to proclaim an end to the Covid-19 epidemic.

• The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have opened their borders to each other to create a ‘travel bubble’. Free movement of people will be restored to all 6 million permanent residents of the Baltic states, but arrivals from outside the three countries will have to undergo a two-week quarantine period.

• Russia reports more than 10,000 new cases: The country reported 10,598 new coronavirus infections on Friday from the past 24 hours, as the country struggles to rein in the pandemic. Only the United States has more cases globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

• The Nana Otafrija service group, known as Ghana’s dancing pallbearers, provides funeral services featuring men dressed in black and white suits and sunglasses. The pallbearers have been enjoying international fame in pandemic times, urging people to stay home and exercise social distancing.

What’s the latest in the Americas?

• The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned doctors about a serious rare inflammatory condition in children linked to coronavirus.

• US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club will partially reopen to members this weekend as South Florida slowly reopens after the coronavirus lockdown.

• The number of cases in Brazil passed 200,000 on Thursday. The country now has 202,918 confirmed cases, with 13,944 added in the last 24 hours, according to its health ministry.

What’s the latest in the Asia-Pacific region?

• China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from coronavirus, with the National Health Commission reporting four new cases on Friday.

• China calls for stable ties with the United States, with Beijing saying it wants to maintain bilateral ties after US President Donald Trump heavily criticised the country on Thursday.

• The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has reported 29 new cases, 17 of which are linked to bars and clubs in Seoul’s nightlife district of Itaewon.
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FACTBOX

What is coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Covid-19, first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, is a strain of coronavirus previously unknown to human science.

The first infections were linked to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, but the virus is now spreading from person to person.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats”.

What are its symptoms?

Symptoms of the virus include a cough, fever, sore throat, headache and breathing difficulties.

The virus can cause lower respiratory tract illness like pneumonia, especially for those with a weaker immune system, like the very young or elderly.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period – between getting infected and showing symptoms – lasts up to 14 days.

How is the virus transmitted?

The virus can be spread by human-to-human transmission – for example, coming into contact with an infected person’s droplets in a cough.

As CNN reports, Covid-19 can also be transmitted by touching an object which an infected person has touched, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

How can you prevent its spread?

Wash your hands frequently – Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand gel can kill the virus.

Maintain social distance – Keep your distance from people coughing, sneezing or with a fever – ideally, at least 1 metre (3.2 feet) away.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – If your hands touch a contaminated surface, you run the risk of that virus entering your body.

Practice good respiratory hygiene – Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (ideally with a tissue), and wash your hands afterwards.

Useful links on coronavirus

The BBC provides a visual guide to the viral outbreak, with key maps, graphics and stats.

The Worldometer website provides real-time statistics and updates on Covid-19 cases across the globe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers advice on how the general public can help prevent the spread of the virus.