*Updated March 11, 2020.
In December 2019, a new disease developed in central China. Initially believed to be pneumonia, the new coronavirus has already infected thousands and killed thousands. This respiratory virus originated in animals but can now be spread from person to person.
This outbreak has been exacerbated by the large numbers of people traveling to and around China due to the Lunar New Year holiday. China and Hong Kong have already taken extreme measures to contain the virus, halting public transportation and canceling hundreds of flights.
There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in more than 100 countries including: China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Italy, the United States, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, France, Vietnam, Canada, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany, Sri Lanka and the Ivory Coast.
How Does This Affect your Travel Plans?
If you were planning on taking a trip to China, the CDC recommends that you cancel your plans.
Non-essential travel through China and most of East-Asia is being discouraged and often outright canceled by authorities. On January 27, Mongolia officially closed its border with China and suspended university classes to prevent the spread of the disease despite no confirmed cases in the country.
If you can avoid traveling in this area of the world right now, it is prudent to do so. If you must travel to the region, washing your hands regularly, staying hydrated and purchasing adequate travel insurance can help you stay financially and physically safe. Scientists also recommend making sure that all meat you consume is thoroughly cooked to at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit in case the disease is spread through meat.
If you are traveling elsewhere in the world, washing your hands regularly and staying hydrated are still good ways to avoid getting sick. However, any plane that has been in East Asia recently, there is a small possibility that there will be coronavirus contagions still on the airplane. If you are worried, it is safest to stay off of international flights for the time being.
Can Travel Insurance Help?
If you are planning travel in the coming weeks, it’s prudent to get a trip insurance plan that includes “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage. This way you will be able to recoup much of your flight, hotel and other non-refundable expenses if you decide that you do not feel safe taking your scheduled trip.
Travel Medical insurance can also help you if you get sick abroad. If you were to need to go to a hospital with a new illness or injury, travel insurance can help. In this case, it is important to read the fine print on the plans, however, because some plans will not cover treatment for illnesses that have been declared an “epidemic” or “pandemic” before the policyholder arrives at their destination.
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