Would You Cancel Trip To China Due To Wuhan Virus?

Filed Under: Travel

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

In light of the widespread coverage of the Wuhan coronavirus, I’ve received several questions from readers asking if I’d still recommend traveling to or through China.

It goes without saying that I’m not a doctor, world health expert, or anything else. I’m just a guy who travels a lot, and over time have put significant thought into some of the “issues” that may put people off traveling to certain regions.

Therefore I’ll instead answer the question of whether I’d be willing to travel to China (and specifically Wuhan) right now. I’m headed to mainland China (though not Wuhan) this week, so let me share how I rationalize the situation.

The basics of the Wuhan coronavirus

The first case of the Wuhan coronavirus was identified in Wuhan in mid-December, and since then there have been over 450 confirmed cases, and nine deaths.

This has been transmitted by animals and people, and was linked to a market in Wuhan that was selling seafood and live animals.

So far most of the deaths have involved elderly people with other conditions. This has even spread internationally, as yesterday the US CDC revealed there was one confirmed case in the US, of someone who had arrived from Wuhan.

The challenge is that no one knows how many people really have this, and also how much worse it will get. When it comes to traveling, one particular concern is that the Chinese New Year is this weekend, which means a lot of people will be traveling, further increasing the risk of this virus spreading.

I have no qualms traveling to mainland China

I’m scheduled to spend a night in Beijing later this week, while enroute to Taipei. My dad knows about this trip, so not surprisingly he called me yesterday, saying “you’re not traveling to China, are you?!” I don’t blame him for his concern, based on how this is being covered in the news here in the US.

Does the prospect of this becoming something like MERS or SARS concern me? Obviously. But at this point it would seem somewhat paranoid to change travel plans when traveling to a completely different city in China.

It’s one thing if overnight there were ten thousand new cases of this discovered, but short of that, I wouldn’t change plans.

I probably wouldn’t travel through Wuhan

As mentioned above, I’m traveling through Beijing, and not Wuhan, though. The cities are nearly 700 miles apart, so it would be like reconsidering travel to San Francisco because of something primarily going on in Seattle.

Would I travel to Wuhan right now? No, probably not.

Not because I necessarily think it’s that risky (in my opinion the statistics simply don’t support that in a city of over ten million people), but rather because of the stress it would cause my family, who for all the right or wrong reasons would be very concerned about me.

Furthermore, it just seems like if you can avoid directly subjecting yourself to everything surrounding that (including additional screening at airports and beyond), it’s probably for the better.

Bottom line

When it comes to situations like the Wuhan coronavirus, everyone has to decide for themselves what they’re comfortable with. In my opinion it’s never worth traveling if you’re in a situation where you feel like you’re putting yourself at risk, whether that’s rational or not.

Over the years I’ve developed pretty consistent guidelines when it comes to what I am and am not comfortable with when traveling. For example, I’ll fly any airline without considering their safety record. Why? Because even on the least “safe” airlines, you’re still safer than in a car. When I get in an Uber, I don’t in great detail look up the safety ratings of that car, interview the driver about their driving skills, etc.

Of course I’m not totally consistent in my logic either, because chair lifts still scare the hell out of me. 😉

We’ll have to see how the Wuhan coronavirus develops. If this turns into something where there are suddenly tens of thousands of new cases in a short period of time, then I’d definitely avoid any area with a lot of reported cases.

However, for the time being the statistics just don’t support that.

I’m curious to hear how you guys feel about this, as I truly don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, with everyone having different comfort levels.

Would you feel comfortable traveling to Wuhan right now? What about to mainland China in general?

  1. Ditto, wouldn’t avoid Wuhan due to the risk of infection (since the risk is low atm), but will avoid Wuhan due to all the additional screening you’ll get in Wuhan and every city you visit afterwards.

  2. I had a trip to Guangzhou in February but I’m probably going to cancel. The likelihood of getting the virus is tiny but the likelihood of being hassled on the way home is 100%

  3. flights to Taipei from Beijing (and other parts of China) are quarantined upon arrival right at the gate. Health inspection for all, no exceptions. Hope you built in some massive connecting times.

    The problem is that the inspection should be done at the port of departure.

  4. I had a business class ticket JFK-BKK on China Southern via Wuhan which luckily I booked thru Amex travel and is refundable. So two days ago I booked myself on Finnair it cost me 600 more but the peace of mind for me at least is huge. This could become a global pandemic and air travel is facilitating that so no I think you shouldn’t travel to mainland China unless you are willing to become very sick and potentially then pass it on to your loved ones.

  5. Good read, and I agree with you. I wouldn’t stress out either and just avoid those areas as well. However, we are scheduled to vacation in Shanghai in March with my two young daughters of 9 and 11 years old. With the increasing pressure of my wife to cancel, what are the protocols of an airline with an episode such as this? Are flights refundable, or at the least credited towards a future flight? In this case it is Air Canada, but I booked through Expedia. Thank you for any insight. Keep up the good work!

  6. Influenza is much more contagious and kills tens of thousands annually. Nobody changes travel plans because it’s flu season.

  7. This article has ignored several important facts:

    1. There would be a sharp increase in the number of trips taken by Chinese citizens during Chinese new year, which starts in a few days, by various means of transport

    2. The PRC government has a history of understating the number of cases: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_SARS_outbreak
    “On April 20, Beijing mayor Meng Xuenong and health minister of the PRC Zhang Wenkang were replaced respectively by Wang Qishan from Hainan and the former deputy health minister Gao Qiang. They are the first two high-rank officials in the PRC to be dismissed because of the fallout of the epidemic. In the news conference chaired by Gao Qiang several hours earlier, the PRC admitted that in Beijing there are more than 300 cases, as opposed to the previous figure of only 37. One day later the figure has increased to 407. Chinese officials also admitted to major underreporting of cases, which were attributed to bureaucratic ineptitude.”

    3. Both Imperial College, London and Hong Kong University has built model that suggests there should be c.1.5k cases in Wuhan alone, which is much higher than the number of cases currently reported.

    4. Compared to 2003, China now has a much bigger network of high speed trains, making travel, and hence the spread of disease much easier.

    It is easy to tell people ‘it is okay to visit China’ when one doesn’t have to take the responsibility for any consequences.

  8. No, you shouldn’t go to Wuhan due to gross incompetence and handling of the epidemic, hospitals were full of patients, and before the news exploded nationwide, they were told to go home. Doctor was first confirmed infected 11 days ago and local government covered, claimed the virus can’t go person to person at the time. And many companies already forbid their employees from entering/exiting Wuhan
    Other parts in China are probably fine, but avoid Wuhan by all means. And this will go down as bad as SARS, if not worse, in history, IMO

  9. Coronavirus is described as a flu-like illness. Most people do not know this, but each year in the US, between 10,000 and 80,000 people die each year from the flu.

    So 11 people have dies of this particular illness. This is statistically insignificant – unless on worries that Coronavirus is going to be like the feared pandemic of cimema, like Contagion or I Am Legend.

  10. I am flying from JFK through Hong Kong to Hanoi and Singapore the second week of February. I am nervous but I have round trip first class tickets on Cathay Pacific purchased with Alaska Airlines miles. I won’t even be leaving the airport while transiting in Hong Kong. Most of the time in the first class lounge. I probably will wear a dust mask will getting to the Pier or Wing and getting back to the plane. Any suggestions?

  11. I booked a trip with China Southern to Sanya with connections in Shengzhen and GuangZhou next month I am worried and do not know if I should cancel my trip. This is bad news for me. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  12. @Ron makes some good points, especially pointing out that this is the heaviest Asian travel season of the year, a prime opportunity for spreading the virus far and wide.

  13. Why would one in these days of rapid spread of virus’s even tempt fate ? Unless there was a compelling reason to travel I wouldn’t travel within that region. If the Chinese government were to be totally trusted in these matters ( let’s remember SARS) why would one do this? While I agree we all can hide under the covers chances are we here in the US will get more than the one case so far. I find it interesting that Seattle is a major port of entry from China yet the screening is not being done there, at least according to the maps indicating additional screening. I remember returning from Dubai several years ago when we returned to the gate three times to off load “sick” passengers AND THEN inflight another got sick had to be segregated in a corner of biz, landing at SFO was a treat being raided by health officials Hazmat etc. It was a bit frightening we were told it was “food poisoning” that a number of passengers coming out of Pakistan, Hummm

  14. I just cancelled my Valentines Trip to HK next month, though the city is pretty far in distance to Wuhan, but some how I won’t take this risk for my wife to expose with Wuhan Virus especially there are very high human traffic movement in pre and post Chinese Lunar New Year festive season.

  15. No one here is qualified to even advise on this topic unless you and an expert in infectious diseases and pandemic conditions. History proves that the PRC will not be forthcoming about the situation so any data out of China is, by default, questionable. I would await guidance from the World Health Organization or your country-level health organizations before making a travel decision.

  16. Another interesting point an article in Life Sciences told us about the discovery of 28 so far unknown viruses embedded in ice along the northwestern Tibetan Plateau of China. The slow melting of the ice in many regions could possibly trigger the release of ancient unknown viruses.

    Disclaimer I am not a Global Warming alarmist however I do believe it is warming

  17. I have a trip in March to Wuhan via Tokyo. Booked in Chase travel and so far they won’t allow me to cancel, despite the growing concern. The latest update is 17 deaths and it’s growing like the Tesla stock. I grew up in Wuhan so I have A LOT of friends there and the real situation is much much worse than what the Chinese government has been revealing – thousands of potential patients are lining up to get into the hospitals but the resources are very limited and a lot of doctors/nurses are now collapsed.

  18. By the end of this week, this thing will spread all over China due to the world’s greatest annual human migration. They do not have the capability of stopping Chinese people to travel home for the lunar new year.

    I have chastised and forbid family members that live in Shanghai (not near Wuhan) to visit my elderly grandmother next week.

    DO NOT go to China/Hong Kong/Macau in the foreseeable future, unless you have a very good reason. Reviewing a 787 business class on a broke airline that won’t exist much longer is NOT a valid reason.

    Many people die every year due to influenza because they are stupid and do not get flu shots that are widely available. Coronovirus is different, it has no cure or remedy at the moment and likely won’t have one for a while.

    For those of you with leisure travel plans thru/to China in the next few months, you should cancel/reroute your trip. I am pretty sure airlines will soon have adjusted policies regarding this situation.

    As with the person who posted about their impending transit at HKIA, dust mask is useless. You have to wear surgical/antivirus masks. You do not need N95 masks as one cannot breath easily with those, forcing you to remove it often, which kills the the purpose of wearing masks. There is an outage (not shortage) of masks in China right now, family and friends are asking me to mail them masks from the States. I went to/called 17 targets/CVS/Walgreens in my area yesterday and everyone is sold out.
    Currently Amazon is out of stock on usable masks until February 5th. How’s that for data folks?!

    Lucky, please don’t be stupid (I am sorry if this is too direct), but it is not worth it.

  19. Some peculiar comments, but I generally agree with Ben:

    1) I recently visited China with my flu shot (do it every year) and came home with influenza A

    2) I have not gotten flu A since childhood

    3) without the shot, I’d be in hospital

    4) novel coronavirus is less dangerous than influenza this year

    I will try to avoid China at all costs during flu season going forward. I am not the only person I know who has flu shot and contracted flu in China. To me, flu outbreak in China is much more concerning due to transmission and impact to young and old.

  20. There’s no reason to equivocate on whether to travel to Wuhan – the analysis here appears sound that the risk is probably low but it’s based entirely on what appears to be sensible to a lay person based on what appears to be situation, about 20 days after the illness began to appear. Civil authorities and epidemiological experts have urged people not to travel to Wuhan; that should carry substantial weight. Much of the pathology and transmission of the virus remain unknown and coronaviruses are thought to mutate easily (bringing the potential of becoming more lethal or more easily transmitted). Deciding to go to ground zero where a novel virus – only known to mankind for a few weeks – is sickening, and in some instances killing, people seems extremely poor judgment even if the risk appears low based on current knowledge. At least not if the decision to go is purely discretionary.

  21. Visiting China is a mistake, period. The government makes good money off of tourism and that should bother more people.

  22. I visit China roughly 10 times per year from the US. Like Lucky I would have no reservations but would avoid Wuhan. If you have a compromised immune system then staying home is a good idea. However I do agree with many that the Lunar Year holiday brings increased risk.

  23. Well said Lucky! I’m currently on business in Guangzhou. Would I be worried? Yes but I take my precautions. At the end of the day it’s an influenza, your body have to fight it. But it’s bad for old ppl as they will struggle to fight it off. Just for reference, influenza kills about 600 people in UK every year. I had it myself and was bed bound for 3 weeks it was horrible.

    Having said that, i will avoid wuhan at all cost. This is what the government is doing telling ppl in wuhan NOT to travel.

    The western media made as ppl are dying in China but it simply not the case.

    So be vigilant if you have planned a trip to China, don’t. If you have take precautions.

  24. I do plan to visit in summer, hopefully the whole thing will be over by then. The spring festival will be a major test to see how things go, the number of people that will be moving around the country during this time of the year is mind blowing.

  25. Things are evolving fast and the picture could look very different later this week. The virus is so widespread in Wuhan that a domestic air passenger who spent a two-hour layover at Wuhan airport caught it. Hospitals in Wuhan have been overwhelmed for over a week.

    I afraid Wuhan has very likely under-reported the true extent of the outbreak, perhaps against Beijing’s will. Chinese censors are not taking down all the Weibo complaints over Wuhan’s lame handling of the outbreak.

    On the other hand, there are indications that the virus has not made everyone very sick (as SARS did). Young people and children might have better defense. But the real risk is that while a traveler might catch the virus not even noticing it, he/she could provide a hitchhike for the virus to reach vulnerable people who live far from Wuhan.

    Later this week would be okay as Beijing is half deserted during Chinese New Year. But as the cases stack up and people return to work early next month, the situation will look grim. Unnecessary travel to China this spring should be reconsidered.

  26. Responsible coverage of this “epidemic” would contextualize the risk. Compare the number of infections and deaths in China and the US due to Coronavirus vs. the number of infections and deaths in the same time period due to the flu. The story isn’t so interesting now, is it?

    This story has “legs” because of people’s heightened concerns around travel over the Chinese New Year, because of the perceived strangeness of animal-human transmission, and because of generalized ignorance and racism toward all things China.

    Disclosure: My whole family just spent a month in China, with a day’s layover in the viral hotbed of Japan. Spent the day at home with my 3 year old yesterday, who had a respiratory infection, a cough, and a fever, oh no. Spending the day at home with him again, fever gone, robust appetite, singing songs and climbing the walls. Neither me nor my wife — a physician and surgeon — are particularly concerned by what’s in all likelihood the common cold or flu.

  27. Just flew from Beijing to Chengdu to Tel Aviv. No noticeable change in procedure from the Chinese or Israelis. Lots of passengers and all customs officers were in masks though. I live in Beijing, and see no real danger from walking around on the streets with (or even without) a mask on. Potentially avoid crowded subways/public transport though.

  28. From reading the NYT article, the incubation period of the Wuhan coronavirus is roughly 2 weeks. Only time will tell whether this is a huge public health issue or not. I wonder if the CDC is contacting the passengers who sat near the patient who went to Seattle from China a few days ago and was then diagnosed with the coronavirus.
    If folks do go to China, just make sure to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. Make sure to bring hand sanitizer and for peace of mind, bring those wipes to clean off your airplane seat. Have a great trip and try to keep your immune system strong while abroad!

  29. There is a flight from Wuhan to JFK arriving tonight at 10pm. How do they allow this ?

    No way I would go to China. Not even Beijing for a night. Even if I had an Etihad residence flight to catch. Cancel it Ben.

  30. I think your analysis is reasonable but I would add a few things to consider:

    1) as always the benefits must outweigh the risks. You can review these flights another time. There’s no urgency. If someone is visiting a dying relative or needs to complete a million dollar business deal, then maybe even traveling to Wuhan is worth it. Yes the risks here are pretty small, but frankly Lucky, your reasons for traveling are also pretty small. I think your Dad is right wondering whether you absolutely *have* to take this trip right now.

    2) you also have to consider the risk of *you* becoming one of those carriers that brings home the virus. Just like all those millions of Chinese that will be traveling for New Years pose a cumulative risk of spreading the disease, so does every international passenger. Yes, your individual chance of doing so is small, but consider that virus spreading isn’t always only done by “other people”. Every person that travels adds to the risks of spread.

    3) during the sars epidemic, China was terrible in reporting, due to a combination of incompetence and wanting to hide the true extent. Indeed, initially it was thought the disease started in Hong Kong because they were there first ones to report it. Only later did we realize that’s because the disease had been brewing quietly in China but they weren’t reporting it, and HK was actually the spillover.

    I’m sure China is better at this now (ironically, due to how badly SARS went). But I wouldn’t place 100% faith in their case counts just yet.

    Anyway, on balance I agree with you, but I’m more equivocal about your decision than you are.

  31. This disease is being overblown.

    Based on an overview of this new disease, it seems that transmission is limited to large droplets or significantly contaminated surfaces. This means if someone sneezes in your face or you touch a surface with bodily fluids (mucus, saliva, etc) on it.

    Carrying around hand sanitizer, watching where you put your hands, and a N95 mask should prevent infection even in Wuhan. Even if infected, the majority of deaths occur in immuno-compromised persons and the like with a morbidity rate of 2%.

  32. Local public transportation (bus/metro/ferry) in Wuhan is scheduled to be shut down on 1000 hours Jan 23. At the same time passengers won’t be permitted to leave from airport and train stations. Just FYI. It’s getting increasingly like Beijing during the 2003 SARS epidemic.

  33. At this point, I am not sure this virus is bad enough to warrant concern. There were worse issues with vaping than this. So hundreds of people have it starting in a city of 10 million people and 9 people have died. Reports say most or all of the dead were older or otherwise weakened.

    Seems like the common cold or flu is cause for more concern.

  34. Booked the award ticket to Shanghai next week. Is there any possible that I can get a travel waiver if cancel the trip?

  35. For those who thinks this is overblown, even if it is overblown, it has actually, to some extent, been overblown by none other than the PRC.

    President Xi said on Monday that it is extremely crucial to take every possible measure to combat this new virus. Has he ever said the same thing for influenza?

    They have decided to shut down all transport links, including the airport, in Wuhan. Has that ever been done for a flu outbreak?

    One key metric that people have ignored so far is the number of MEDICAL STAFF (e.g. doctors, nurses) infected, and developed acute symptoms or even died as a result. This was what set SARS apart from a normal flu. Whilst there hasn’t been any reported cases of medical staff passing away due to this new virus, some medical staff / professors in Wuhan have been infected (sources only available through Chinese media).
    The reason this metric is key, and different from just the total number of cases, is that medical staff usually have a high hygiene standard, and can wear protection clothing when they are treating patients. So if they can be infected after taking all the precautionary measures, it shows you how contagious this virus can be.

  36. “Would I travel to Wuhan right now? No, probably not. Not because I necessarily think it’s that risky (in my opinion the statistics simply don’t support that in a city of over ten million people)”

    Apparently the Chinese government has closed all train stations and airports in Wuhan to outgoing travel and have been directing people to stay home and imploring people NOT to travel to Wuhan. So while you may think its not risky the Chinese government apparently sure as hell does. Also, not sure where you get your numbers from. There are at least 17 people dead from this and counting.

  37. I travel a lot. Last week I went to La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, right after the post-election chaos. I am going to Beijing for a few days next week. Could be I am too bold, I thought the chances of me being killed during a political disturbance or by a variation of flu of a dozen cases per 20m people are lower than me being killed in a car accident. I was cautious in Beijing as I did in La Paz. I hope you will be during your trips too, Ben.

  38. @Bill: or perhaps the Chinese government is sensitive to criticism, from other countries, and from its own people. China is an authoritarian regime but that does not mean it does not listen to and respond to criticism, sometimes overly so. They may care about the optics of this and want to avoid the drubbing they took over the perceived inadequacy of their reaction to the SARS epidemic, which is sometimes called “China’s 9/11.”

    Long story short I wouldn’t view the transportation closure to Wuhan as indisputable evidence of the diseases’ virulence and lethality. Watch mortality and infection rates in coming weeks if you want to know for sure. So far the available evidence suggests this is not nearly so lethal as SARS.

  39. I would strongly siggest rerouting your flight to Taiwan, just to save yourself the hassle of landing in Taiwan from a flight originating in China. And god knows what kind of quarantine measure the Taiwanese govt will have in place if anyone onboard your flight from Beijing to Taiwan got the virus.

    And I mean… Taking a direct Eva Air flight just before your Starlux flight would make for an interesting comparison too? 😉

    PS. Latest I have read is Chinese govt will close down all buses trains planes departing Wuhan from 10pm local time tonight Thursday? What if they happened to do that to Beijing just when you have just landed and couldnt get out in time.

  40. We have a trip booked to Vietnam from February 11th-21st. Our flight is going through Hong Kong. We would be there for only few hours. We are still considering canceling our trip. We were looking forward to this trip 🙁 still not sure if risking going there makes much sense. We said we will wait until Monday. Any advice somebody please..

  41. @Kendor Being that UK researchers put the number of infected at closer to 4,000 forgive me if I don’t run out and buy a ticket to Wuhan. I think writing off the Chinese government reaction as just a public relations ploy is foolhardy, especially in light of them doing it right before the Chinese new year. If anything I fear they are taking these actions too late.

  42. For those of you who think that people are not worried enough about this, perhaps a little perspective is in order, not even using this but instead based on SARS, which seems to be the horror that everyone fears this might be. 774 people died from SARS during the entire outbreak. This is approximately the same number of people that die from diarrhea every 4 hours and have died from diarrhea for decades. Being terrified of this disease is bizarre.

  43. We just canceled a trip to Nanjing to visit family for the New Year at the tail end of a trip to Vietnam and are instead routing directly from Hanoi to Taipei. From my perspective, for dozens of people to be infected outside of China in a such a short period of time at this point when there are 11 million people in Wuhan suggests that there are many many more cases there and in other cities in China. Afterall, what percentage of the population need to be infected for that number of people traveling to be carrying it out of the city/country? Even the 4,000 cases that are estimated by outside parties seems intuitively low. It seems like the rate of infection would have to be much higher to achieve the kind of transmission rates we’ve seen in the last few weeks.

    Would love to see family, but would feel pretty dumb if we came down with SARS #2 and it was easily avoided. We can always spend a few hundred bucks a ticket later to go back when this all blows over.

  44. I have tie with China health industry due to job position. Wuhan local health professionals Estimste the carriers are between 50k to 300k. Also they have the mobile pay map that can track every single one’phone who had been to that seafood market (origin of this episode). They had been spread across the country, though Beijing and Shanghai are the top 2 destinations. I strongly encourage Lucky to cancel all the trips to north and SE Asia from Feb to May. Thailand, HK, Taiwan, japan u name it had all been infected.

  45. Wuhan airport is shutdown, all outbound flights cancelled.
    I was supposed to leave on China Southern 8420 JFK-WUH-BKK on Monday, had to cancel ticket (full refund given) and rebook on China Eastern JFK-PVG-BKK.
    No notification from CZ was ever sent. I had to find out about WUH closing down from the news.

  46. @Farnorthtrader

    SARS actually has a case-fatality rate of 11%. How about diarrhoea?

    The only reason the death count wasn’t that high was because (late) actions were taken by the respective governments and WHO. WHO issued a list of infected areas and travel warning to these area. They also issued a ‘global travel warning’.

    The HK government stepped up its city hygiene efforts and suspended schools for a month ( and a lot of schools started the suspension before the government asked them to anyway). If you look up the pictures HK airport was basically dead at the time. People didn’t travel as usual to avoid spreading the disease, which is exactly what people should do right now.

    However Lucky, by all means go ahead with your trip – I look forward to reading your review on a lacklustre HU product.

  47. Scoot (Singapore Airlines budget airline) have just cancelled flights between SIN and Wuhan from Jan 23 to Jan 26 inclusive. Reason being shut down of “all public transportation networks in the city”. Flights after this date are still planned to go ahead. Singapore MOH will implement enhanced screening for all flights from China. I have had this before at Changi and it add very little time to your landing procedures.

  48. @MDA I think you will find the flight cancellation to Wuhan will probably go on for quite a bit longer than 26 Jan. The way the Chinese worded it is all public transportation networks in the city have been shut down “until further notice”.

    The leaked videos coming out of China is quite concerning. Not saying people have to avoid going to China. But in Lucky’s case if it is just a positioning transit flight on a cancelable/refundable ticket then why bother? It isn’t that difficult or costly to book another flight to Taipei?

  49. @James C – agree – just repeating what was the email I received from Scoot (not going there but used to fly them a bit). Personally I would never travel to CH over New Year (or the week after) anyway – way too busy. I wouldn’t go to Wuhan but I personally would go to Beijing (again not during NY). I am a firm believer in doing what is right for you and your family. For me I will not go somewhere for the travel advise is red as it invalidates a lot of travel insurance – which is very important to me. Interestingly the Australia govt advice is that China as a whole is still fine (green), but Wuhan has been updated to “Reconsider your need to travel”(amber).

  50. I officially claim this as WuHARS. Wuhan acute respiratory syndrome.


    If what you are saying is true, then someone should be a whistle blower.
    What surprises me is that I’m sure they can track phones and should have done a better job on quarantines. Locking down the whole city is a bit too much too late. Could have sent the army to snatch everyone at the market 4 weeks ago.

    On a different side, this will be interesting to see how effective a large scale lockdown can be executed. So far WuHARS isn’t as lethal as SARS (yet?) so this will be a good case study if something more lethal surfaces.

  51. I thought I was the only one who was afraid of chair lifts. Like it seems so easy to fall off because of the weight of the skis. Also, if it stops or something becomes loose.

  52. @neil not a fan either. I am a skier so have learnt to tolerate them. I can not go on a chairlift that does not have a bar to pull down. It doesn’t help that I once dreamt that I fell off a chairlift.

  53. Hi I need to travel via hong kong to toronto on march. I’m so worried whether I need to cancle my ticket or go a head with Hong kong airport.

  54. I have a trip planned for 14th Feb to Guanzhou. I am honestly afraid but do not get a refund if I cancel. Do you think its worth losing over a 1000$ (2 people)?

  55. I have a trip planned for 14th Feb to Guanzhou. I am honestly afraid but do not get a refund if I cancel. Do you think its worth losing over a 1000$ (2 people)? Note: the person i am going with has respiratory issues already

  56. I’m sitting right now in the Flagship Lounge in DFW, waiting to board my flight to HK. There I’ll have a layover of 13 hours before continuing to Phuket, and back same route in a week.
    I’ve been aware of the virus scare, but thought myself not much of it so far. Too few cases, seemed still contained mostly to mainland China.
    However now I’m reading this here and threads on FT where people are advising wearing masks in the plane and all. I’ve got nothing of that kind with me. Is this all warranted? Will I be the only one in HKG and in the connection without mask?

  57. I am scheduled to fly to Guangzhou in April with my son to visit family.
    My family here have asked me consistently if I will be cancelling and every time I say to them at the moment, statistically, I’m not worried about travelling to Guangzhou.

  58. Many sports events – esp childrens – involving travel from other parts of Asia to South Korea (where I live) have just been cancelled (evening of 23rd). Major tourist destinations – including the forbidden palace in Beijing – are now closed. Its difficult to say of course where this goes, but quoting SARS deaths etc is not that useful – the disruption, closure of sites, and various shut downs – are what impacts you as a traveller. A good analogy is 9/11 and travelling security ever since. I guess you decide on disruption factors – but in the 24hrs since this piece was posted the death toll has doubled and infection is up 300%. Two cities are now in lockdown. And, in China, who knows what…its not like people can google information or share experiences.

  59. Providing an Asian perspective here. It’s CNY and billions (e.g. 3 billion in 2016, will be much more now) will be criss-crossing China to visit their hometowns. Transport in China will also be crazily dense and packed.

    The viruses have also occurred in at least 14 other provinces apart from Wuhan, including Beijing and Shanghai. The coronavirus cases brought in from China to other countries were not from Wuhan. E.g. the man who brought the virus in to Singapore was flying in from Guangzhou.

    It can’t be overstated just how important CNY celebrations are for us, and if it’s enough of a hazard for Beijing to cancel CNY festivities, it’s enough of a threat for tourists to take note.

    Finally, Chinese residents and public health officials are certain China is massively under-reporting cases. Researchers estimate 1,300 to more than 4,000 undetected cases — in Wuhan alone.

    I would understand a casual attitude if it were somewhere like Taiwan. There, people tend to wear masks, practise good hygiene and self-report illness (like the single coronavirus patient, who immediately self-reported).

    However, people in China have a very cavalier attitude towards hygiene in public and working/travelling while sick, even in times of epidemic. This phenomenon was well-documented during the SARS period and has already been reported in this case. That’s how SARS became an epidemic with over 8000 cases throughout Asia, *despite* many Chinese residents knowing full well that they should have turned themselves in for quarantine.

    On a last note, some commentators mentioned the flu. The difference between this and the flu is that there’s a known cure for the flu. Like its predecessor SARS, we don’t know how to treat coronavirus.

    As with SARS for instance, it was always a certainty in Singapore that the coronavirus would make its way here, due to all the above factors. Now that it has, as with SARS, it’s a certainty that the old and weak who catch it are bound to die (as there’s no cure). It’s just a matter of whether the deaths will be in the double or triple digits.

    So yeah, it’s certainly a personal decision (especially if it’s just 1 night for a stopover) but just hoping to provide some context that readers may not be aware of.

  60. I am traveling on a two week trip to Bangkok, phuket, malaysia, and singapore with a 15 hour layover in Beijing in Feb, I am not sure if its a good idea to still go. I booked it on my chase reserve and they will not be able to cancel for it me.

  61. @Farnorthtravel – it’s silly to compare SARS to diarrhoea. Only 700+ people died from SARS, but most of its 8000+ survivors have developed severe bone degeneration, lung scarring, chronic fatigue and so on. Many are bedbound and at least some have considered or committed suicide.

  62. Sorry, have to add on to my previous comment – and the 8000 cases was with schools and workplaces and malls in Singapore, HK, etc shut down for ages. All inbound travel from contaminated regions banned. Ghost towns basically. Just think how much worse it would have been if not. The trouble is people took those measures too late, because – just like now – they trusted the Chinese government’s information and Chinese residents’ willingness to follow the protocol.

  63. We’ll I’m right now on route to HKG (AA125). I can’t say I feel good about how this develops, but hoping for the best and for statistically low risk for the layover there, the fully booked connection to Phuket and the stay there, and all the way back.
    On my flight, there’s a bunch of people with masks though I think that’s a bit over the top given that this is the flight outbound to Asia. I expect that tomorrow for the next leg, this will be very different.

  64. I’m going on a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong feb 27 should I think of cancell ?? it’s a 13 hour flight

  65. We live in Texas and just had two cases reported in Rio Grand Area and College Station Texas.
    The Target store and CVS pharmacy are out of surgical masks and we found a few left at Walgreens. We are scheduled to go on a 14 day cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on Feb 29. We literally just booked it on Tuesday 1/20 without even thinking of this new virus.
    Worried about the trip in general. Few nights in Singapore, travel through Thailand and Vietnam then a few days in Hong Kong. On our way home, we stop in Seattle Washington which is the first reported case in the USA. Not sure if our cruise is refundable for reasons such as this. I plan to call Celebrity Cruises to see if any trip modifications.

  66. I aoooed on this cruisexas well on millennium leaving feb 29 so I to have not idea what to do now??? I’m sure airlines will start cancelling flights and celebrity may cancell cruisexas well

  67. I am traveling to japan and staying 2 days in Shanghai and then flying back home to the states! should I keep my flight that’s in the beginning of March or cancel? I’m keeping up with the news but I don’t know the exact situation.

    Please advise

  68. I have a 4-week trip planned in March. 10 days in mainland China visiting friends in Shanghai and Guangdong then I join a 12-day train tour Beijing-North Korea-Vladisvostok, after which I will spend another week in that area of Russia.

    The decision whether to go ahead will be made for me. North Korea has already closed to visitors due to coronavirus, and if it is still closed in mid-Feb, the tour company will cancel the train tour.

    That would leave me with just the 10 days in China, which I could fairly easily expand. But with this virus spreading, and millions of people travelling huge distances around China for New Year right now, it is starting to seem like a stupid idea.

  69. Hi, I have a trip to Vietnam in 10 days, Im really concerned about the Coronavirus, but dont know if its too paranoic to cancel the trip due to this, if im not going to China…. advices?

  70. Hysteria, media loves it and well it even got me to respond.

    Here is what people are reading and this from NYT:

    “…Of those who died, many were older men with pre-existing chronic health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure, that made them susceptible to complications.

    At least 24 of those who died were from Hubei, the Chinese province of which Wuhan is the capital. Of those, the youngest was a 48-year-old woman, and the eldest were two 89-year-old men who died on Saturday and Sunday.”

    See that term, pre-existing…

  71. I am scheduled to travel to Shanghai in about 3 weeks. I still plan to go. Considering the number of people living in Wuhan, that is a very small number. Not to mention there’s already been a case reported in the US so I really see no difference.

  72. I would not at all travel to China. You may not go to Wuhan but how do you know the people you encounter have not been there, how do you know people haven’t come into contact with the virus and it’s still in the incubation period. You could contract it and not know and then come back home and spread it to everyone on the plane etc. There are so many possible scenarios of how this could go wrong – on top of the fact that China is notorious for not being honest about the gravity of their outbreaks. Trusting the number they have provided regarding infected persons and deaths is in my opinion naive.

    China will always be there to visit – when there isn’t a new virus circulating. In my opinion they should ground all flights to and from China, it’s drastic but until this virus is contained people who think they’ll be fine are those that will be helping this virus spread. Not fair to everyone else in the world.

    To those saying oh it’s fine it’s already spread so I will go anyways – that is quite a daft statement. The more people who travel to and from China the quicker the virus will spread before it can be contained, the further it will spread. Be a responsible global citizen and don’t go looking for what you haven’t lost, dragging everyone else along with your ill-advised decision.


    I would not at all travel to China. You may not go to Wuhan but how do you know the people you encounter have not been there, how do you know people haven’t come into contact with the virus and it’s still in the incubation period. You could contract it and not know and then come back home and spread it to everyone on the plane etc. There are so many possible scenarios of how this could go wrong – on top of the fact that China is notorious for not being honest about the gravity of their outbreaks. Trusting the number they have provided regarding infected persons and deaths is in my opinion naive.

    China will always be there to visit – when there isn’t a new virus circulating. In my opinion they should ground all flights to and from China, it’s drastic but until this virus is contained people who think they’ll be fine are those that will be helping this virus spread. Not fair to everyone else in the world.

    To those saying oh it’s fine it’s already spread so I will go anyways – that is quite a daft statement. The more people who travel to and from China the quicker the virus will spread before it can be contained, the further it will spread. Be a responsible global citizen and don’t go looking for what you haven’t lost, dragging everyone else along with your ill-advised decision.

  74. We are going on a Celebrity Millenium Cruise on March 14th leaving Hong Kong with a stay of 3 days in Bejing and finishing in Shanghai. As of now, ships wont go to Shanghai. No idea about Hong Kong. I am expecting that Celebrity comes up with an alternative schedule. Maybe there will be a refund involved ( We just going back because of a refund as we got hit by taifun back in October in Japan). Celebrity gave us 50% back of the cruise far.

    Anyhow. right now I would continue to monitor the news. For the next 2 to 3 weeks news wont become better especially consider not everyone receives treatment. So numbers will go up until we will see an improvement even if improvement starts earlier.

    Also based on the fact that no group travel is allowed, i am expecting 0 transportation is available in China at this stage. Therefore there will be upcoming changes but I would stay calm especially for cruise passengers. Celebrity or any other cruise line is not interested to have empty ships nor they are interested to get the virus.
    I might call them up next week to get a better idea but also considering flights etc. as long there is no worldwide guidance out to avoid certain areas, I am expecting you cant cancel your flights but I might would go somewhere else instead means book another flight to go to the philipines, indonasia etc

  75. what about Vietnam? I know its not China and, so far, only 2 cases, but our trip include many domestic flights and its always scaring….. would you guys go to vietnam in 10 days for a 18 days trip in the whole country? I am afraid that it will spread and we have to stay confined….. I know paranoic… but…

  76. I am in Vietnam right now and it is fine. However, it was slightly unnerving to find out that I went through Nha Trang Airport the same day that a confirmed case in Vietnam went through. Luckily I had an early flight but who know?! There were a lot of Chinese in the airport that day. THat was a week ago and I am fine here in Danang and I am not worried about it here so far. However, I am not planning on flying anywhere for at least a couple of weeks just to see how this plays out. For example, you get a lot of Chinese at the hub airports of Bangkok, Kulala Lumpur and Singapore and all of those locations have had cases of Wuhan virus going through although the numbers are in the single digits at this point. I lived in China for two years and my advice right now is DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING THERE!! Even the major cities are getting shut down now and the true figures are MUCh WORSE than what is reported – the CCP lies and covers up all the time. Count on at least 10,000 case now.

  77. yes, my main concern is about the , at least, 5 flights that we are taking and the airports. I dont think it will be relaxing… If we would stay in one place I think it would be fine…but.. thanks for your reply.

  78. But I am going on a cruise feb 28 from Singapore to Hong Kong stopping in Thailand and Vietnam snd would u go on this now!?? We have tours booked everywhere off the ship ! It’s a 16 hour flight air circulation is the worse on planes then on a ship which is bad too ! Would you go??

  79. I called Celebrity and since WHO has not declared an emergency then they cannot offer a cancellation. If you are greater than 31 days from your cruise then you can get 75% penalty.
    Cruise care offers 75% future cruise credit if you cancel for any reason. Note to myself: Pay extra for CFAR (cancel for any reason)!!!!!!!

    Even if we go to Singapore & Hong Kong, it’s not a vacation to wear a mask. Also, we could get back and the USA could quarantine us if the situation gets worse by March 16, our return date.

    Last but not least, we both have very good jobs in the USA and our companies could frown on us for going to SE ASIA during this time. Upon our return, we could get banned from going back to work until after the incubation period (2-14 days). Not panicking but evaluating pros & cons. If we cancel and lose money then I think that would be cheaper than losing my job over the “unknowns”.

  80. go to China? fine. But do not compare it to something like flu. Flu is not as deadly, which dictates the importance of the virus. You want to die, fine, but don’t convince others to die with you because you want to die.

  81. Of course you should avoid going to China at this moment. The epidemic is not yet entirely understood, nor is it controlled. And what would you do in Wuhan anyway? Visit empty streets during the coldest and most polluted time of the year? The Chinese government is warning against all but essential travel into China. Most people are not even using proper masks. Not to be alarming, but why take risks?

  82. We have a trip to Beijing booked for late March. I’m now beginning to worry if travel restrictions will prohibit us from getting our Visas, or even being allowed to visit as tourists. Is it too early to worry?

  83. I have a trip to Taiwan in March — layover in Shanghai & Beijing. I’ll not be able to get a refund if I cancel the flight..what shall I do? ><

  84. I just left China and I wouldn’t recommend going. Everything is literally shut down and now you have to be isolated 14 days once you leave. You will not get the experience you want. I wouldn’t say the issue is contracting Coronavirus it is the fact that you won’t be able to do anything! Hotels, restaurants, stores, transportation, all historic sites ALL shutdown.

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