I’m Canceling My Flights Through China… Should I Cancel My Asia Trip Altogether?

Filed Under: Travel

The Wuhan coronavirus is the leading global news story right now, and for good reason. Yesterday I shared my take on whether or not I’d feel comfortable traveling to China at the moment, which is actually a relevant question for me, as I’m scheduled to fly through mainland China tomorrow.

This is part of a review trip that was supposed to have me flying Hainan Airlines, Starlux Airlines, and Philippine Airlines.

As I said in my post yesterday, my thoughts might evolve based on the latest updates. And indeed, my thoughts have evolved. I’m definitely canceling my outbound flight through mainland China, and I’m trying to decide what to do with the trip overall.

Why I’m no longer flying through Beijing

I was supposed to fly from Boston to Taipei via Beijing tomorrow, with an overnight in Beijing. I’ve decided to cancel that and seek an alternative way to get to Taipei, if I do decide to go.

Why? Well, first and foremost because my parents are very concerned about it, and it’s simply not worth traveling in a way that creates anxiety for my parents. They’re going through enough, and I don’t want to add to that.

But I do have some genuine concerns that go beyond that:

  • Access to & from Wuhan has been shut off completely, which I think points at the severity of the situation
  • I have concerns about whether China is actually sharing everything they know about just how many people have been infected; they’ve been slow to communicate, and it seems to me like they’ve been trying to downplay it
  • While Beijing is a ways from Wuhan, there’s high speed rail running between the cities, and given how easily the virus can be spread (even from people who don’t yet exhibit symptoms), I do think Beijing is at a higher risk than somewhere not as easily accessible from Wuhan
  • This is all happening during one of the busiest travel periods of the year, at a time when more people in China are traveling than ever before (both by air and rail)

Do I think I would be putting my life at risk by traveling through Beijing, in any sort of material way? No, but I want to respect the concerns of my parents, and in general I do think this is getting more serious by the day.

Beyond that, I suspect there’s going to be a very high level of scrutiny for passengers traveling to or from cities like Beijing.

Should I cancel my Asia trip altogether?

This is the thing I need to decide on in the next few hours. I could easily reroute to Taipei, and then my trip takes me to Penang, Malaysia, on Starlux Airlines, and then back to the US via Manila, on Philippine Airlines.

This is a little tricky, because these are all paid non-refundable tickets, and none of them even touch mainland China, so the chances of getting fees waived are minimal.

I do think it’s safe to travel through Taipei, etc. My bigger concern is the general level of anxiety there may be. I’ve seen pictures of cabins of planes flying to & from Hong Kong (and not even mainland China), where just about everyone is wearing face masks.

I suspect the situation will only get worse.

Bottom line

This is a tricky situation for travelers. This is being taken very seriously globally, but at the same time airlines haven’t really updated their policies on flights to & from China.

Obviously flights to Wuhan aren’t possible at the moment, but we’re not seeing any other travel waivers from US airlines (at least) for their flights to other cities in China. Given what we don’t know, it seems perfectly reasonable that many may be reconsidering their trip.

In my case, I need to make a decision in the next few hours, because I’m supposed to leave tomorrow. I’m not going to be traveling through Beijing, primarily because the concern of my parents, though also because of the unknown, and in particular how many people travel daily between Wuhan and Beijing.

I’m reconsidering the trip altogether, not because I think it’s especially risky to travel to other parts of Asia, but rather because I’m not sure I want to add to this whole situation, given the general panic that seems to be associated with air travel at the moment.

Man, Starlux Airlines chose a really bad week to launch operations, eh?

Where do you stand on the Wuhan coronavirus right now, and what would you do in my situation?

Comments
  1. Fear is never a good advisor. Fear is what advised China to first pretend nothing happened, and now to lock up one city while the virus has long escaped. Fly to Asia – there are plenty of good reasons to skip China, there is always a good reason to visit Taiwan.

  2. Yes. You should cancel the whole trip to Asia. Many Asia countries/territories has been affected, including Hong Kong, Thailand, etc. It’s wise to stay in the US and with your family.

  3. Caution is a great advisor. Since this isn’t some once in a lifetime trip, I’d stay home with Ford. You’re doing your part in helping this not turn into a global pandemic. Less people transiting through areas where the Corona virus has been identified, the better.

  4. Are you going to move out of the US as well? The flu kills 800k Americans each year. Let me know when this gets to that level on a continues basis. How many people did SARS kill? I’m sure China is hiding it…but this is a drop in the bucket compared to other things.

  5. It’s very safe in China. All access to and from the city has been blocked. Even it’s own public transportation (subways, buses, etc) have stopped running. There is a smaller chance of you getting it when the people can’t travel and this can’t spread the virus.

  6. I would vote cancel China but do not cancel the full trip. Maybe review Asiana A350 Business and route through ICN?

  7. I would not cancel.
    So far the risk seems not extremely high, much lower than the other risks in life (like a car accident on the way to the airport).
    If this becomes a major outbreak with a high amount of fatalities you will not be safe in the US or anywhere else. It will reach you there. If it will be limited like SARS there is no reason to cancel.

  8. Your reviews are best when you are relaxed and getting “typical” service from the carrier. If there is a chance the sevice will be altered to minimize passenger interaction or that you will be anxious, then just put it off. This isn’t urgent travel; you can do these reviews later. And the last thing your Mom needsrigh th now is to be stressed out by your travel!

  9. If you worry about every small risk you are exposed to when traveling, you will never leave the house. Personally, I wouldn’t even worry about traveling to Beijing. Unfortunately, I have a similar situation with my parents and just don’t tell them about my travel plans.

  10. Yesterday I took the position that it seemed like a non issue based on what we were told. I read this morning that at least 7 who have died were otherwise healthy at the time they contracted the virus. The death toll is also more than double what I knew yesterday. Also, WHO now says it appears easy to get it from people coughing and sneezing around you. So, it seems prudent to avoid being exposed, especially in an airplane for several hours at a time. It seems the authority’s really do not know how many have been exposed, which is probably why China clamped down.

  11. You don’t know who you’d be sitting next to on an airplane in Asia and where they might be traveling from…

    I’d pass on this trip. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities. If nothing else, cancel for your parents’ peace of mind.

  12. When SAR happened many years ago I worked for a Chinese company, I was based in NY and they told all the NY staff not to travel to China,

  13. @Ryan – I take your point, but 800,000 deaths???

    “CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.”

    And many of the deaths are amongst children and the elderly who already have a compromised immune system.

    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

  14. I would say it’s fine for you to go through the trip if you’re fit, perhaps you can just fly directly to Taipei, I don’t suggest a stopover in Hong Kong as there are a lot of flights from mainland China there.

  15. Definitely don’t cancel the entire trip, but probably smart not to route through Mainland China. Would love to see something else interesting on the outbound — +1 to Asiana’s A350 J product!

  16. I would probably do the same, cancel mainland China but not the rest. The US now has the same status like any of those other Asian countries: There are some confirmed isolated cases. If cancel the rest of the trip, you’d also have to stay away from any airports or other public places in the US. Which I think would be an overreaction.

  17. At the moment there’s just too many unknowns.
    It’s not an urgent trip, and you can review at a better time.
    Be mindful of your parents. Your mom doesn’t need any additional stress.
    All the best wishes!

  18. Slightly off-topic, but does anyone has thoughts on flying to Qatar and on-ward to India? We are flying in March to India, via Qsuites. stopover in Qatar. With the Iran tension, we are debating to stick with the trip or cancel as well. thanks for any thoughts.

  19. I have a business trip to Taipei next month and I am planning on going. I am healthy with a robust immune system. I see it as very low risk.

  20. I would cancel just because of the additional headaches you will have in screening in subsequent trips because you have been to China. Are you prepared for that?

  21. It’s insane to suggest that just because something may randomly kill you while traveling (traffic accident, etc), there’s somehow no reason to guard against or avoid known threats. Fear is our friend – it is essential to self protection and preservation.

    At any rate, If you go you’re going to be endlessly worried, as will everyone around you, so you won’t enjoy the trip. I would reschedule.

  22. Your biggest risk is being caught in a quarantine situation -locally or nationally- somewhere. It’s hard to see at this point how various governments will react.

  23. I think cancelling travel to China (outside Wuhan) is a gross overreaction. Western media LOVE to portray China in as negative a light as they can. You’re simply contributing to this fear-mongering attitude. It’s almost ridiculous, I think, how an illness affecting hundreds (or a couple thousand) at most within a billion+ population has featured in global headlines. Wear a mask if you’re so inclined. I flew out of Beijing and Chengdu Tuesday night with no extra security or scrutiny. And this is coming from an American-European living in Beijing. The pollution is more likely to kill you.

  24. Definitely leave the United States immediately and don’t come back, Lucky, every indication is that there is a far more lethal, uncontrollable, and incurable epidemic at work here. Most years between 30,000 and 60,000 Americans are killed dead by influenza, and more than a half-million suffer symptoms so severe they require a hospital stay. Don’t believe me? Check the CDC’s own website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html. In 2017-2018, there were 60,000 American deaths and more than 800,000 people were hospitalized. Crazy! You say you *live* with this?

    Many people try to reassure themselves in the face of this killer influenza epidemic, reminding themselves that they can get the flu shot, or believing the lethality of the flu is a known. Neither is true. In fact, it is well established by countless studies that the “flu shot” is only 50-60% effective any given year, leaving you and your beloved parents UNIMMUNIZED against a virus that is CONTINUOUSLY MUTATING, often into more lethal strains. (Mayo citation: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000) There is typically NO cure for the flu. Hospitals can only offer supportive care, meaning that either your body fights off the infection, or you DIE.

    SARS — believed to be a far more lethal strain of coronavirus than the Wuhan infection — killed just 800 people worldwide. How can you be comfortable living in a country with third-world infrastructure where TENS of THOUSANDS die every year from this uncontrollable and continuously mutating flu virus?

    Slightly joking for the sake of argument here, but every fact I presented here is true. Every indication thus far is that the Wuhan outbreak is considerably less lethal than SARS; the NYT reports this morning that the deaths tended to be in older men who were immunocompromised or otherwise in poor health (e.g. cirrhosis of the liver.) Your family’s fears basically revolve around a fear of what’s not yet known …. which sort of describes the risk you’re already facing against the unknowably dangerous, extremely infectious, continuously mutating and often LETHAL flu virus. One particularly virulent mutation of flu killed more than 50 MILLION people worldwide in the 1920s, a significant percentage of the world’s population at the time. That could happen tomorrow. In the United States. To YOU. Are you feeling lucky, Lucky?

    My advice since you asked for it is to live for yourself and not your anxious parents: the value and correctness of parental advice can diminish as you get older. You may want to reroute your trip simply because of the risk of disruption, but I would not avoid China for scary health reasons.

    Disclosure #1: I and my family recently returned from month in China. Not dead yet.

    Disclosure #2: I’m home right now with a three-year old with a respiratory infection. Medical consensus is that he has either the common cold or some variant of the killer influenza virus that kills Americans by the tens of thousands every year. Nonetheless, out of a ridiculous overabundance of caution I’m keeping him home from school until every last symptom disappears.

  25. One of the persons infected is an US citizen from Washington state who travelled back from Wuhan to his home town via an US hub. Would you also stop travelling to the entire US west coast based on this? If the answer is no, then don’t cancel your Asia trip. The amount of infections and deaths are still relatively low – especially considered to more infectious diseases such as the flu.

    I would personally only start to worry if China shuts down all travel within the entire country, or when organisations such as the WHO and foreign governments give an outright negative travel advice.

    That said, the issue is certainly on my mind as well, as I’m booked in two weeks from now to fly on China Eastern through Kunming, China – and even planned a one-day stopover there on my Asian trip.

  26. My husband is a doctors go work
    In China for years – there is no do in t they have not been forthright.

    I leave for Bangkok and Singapore on the 1st. I just saw my doctor for my travel consultation. I told him I had cancelled my Wuhan bound China Southern flight and am now flying Finnair via Helsinki to BKK, his response: wear a mask on the plane. I think it would be wise to also wear one in any/all Asian airports. Otherwise it hasn’t stopped me from going, but there are tons of Chinese tourist everywhere especially BKK and SIN and Taipei. I think you need to be cautious and asses your level of anxiety. I do want to correct a piece of misinformation above: all the fatalities were older people with pre existing conditions all of whom were in China and dealing with Chinese health care. A country where most regular people still would use traditional medicine first before resorting to western medicine.

    You might want to postpone, we love you and your reviews, but there is no urgency and you should be compassionate to your mom’s anxiety.

  27. Many comments so far are missing the point: respecting the concerns of parents is at the foremost of this decision. Unless if the trip to/through China is absolutely necessary, no point in raising the anxiety and concern level of the loved ones. I am with it based on that criterion.

    I have a trip to Tokyo and to Beijing in April and I am following the development with keen interest. I may cancel Tokyo-Beijing-Tokyo itinerary but I will keep my trip to Tokyo.

  28. Given the nearness of the scheduled travel I would cancel China but not the entire trip. There are more considerations than generating trip reports but I’ve only seen isolated reports of the virus from outside China. You can always cancel out entirely if it spreads to a significant presence in other areas along the trip. While cancelling the nonrefundable tickets would sting, it’s better IMO than rolling the illness dice.

    FTR I’ve cancelled plans to visit Beijing this spring because of this outbreak.

  29. If I were you, and really wanted to go (especially with Starlux) I would reroute through Europe or a direct flight from the US

  30. The risk too high, it is a deadly virus. China has closed off Wuhan, indicating it is becoming a serious pandemic. At least 20 people have died.
    You can always travel later.

  31. When you have a very unknown situation, there is no reason to take the chance of going. The “know it alls” that commented yesterday about it being a minor thing are not looking so good today. For example “Coronavirus spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought, says WHO official”.

    At one point the Chinese were claiming it wasn’t even transmitted from person to person.

    Why take the risk?

    You don’t have to live your life by avoiding all risks but stuff like this is unnecessary.

    I often take exception when bloggers and others tell people they shouldn’t cancel trips after disasters because the local economy needs the tourism money. While there may be some truth there, tourism can also burden the resources that would be better off helping recover from the disaster.

    A trip for blogging purposes is hardly a necessary trip.

  32. Given that you have the freedom to reschedule anytime, not that tough a choice.

    We chose to continue our Madagascar vacation despite a plague outbreak though, as it was pretty much go then or not at all. It too was a lot more hype than reality.

  33. Oh, one additional point, according to the latest news –
    “Only three Chinese regions have not reported coronavirus”

    Seems pretty wide spread. Might still be a low chance of catching it but it sure isn’t limited to one small region.

  34. All those people advising Lucky this is nothing to worry about, or if people are over-reacting, why don’t you go with him to ground zero and put your mouth where the money (virus) is?

    Stop comparing this to the common flu. Common flu kills because people are ignorant and not take precautions and shots. This thing kills even if you are not ignorant. Traveling to anywhere in China this week besides necessity is just stupid. Currently the virus has spread to 28 of 34 provinces (states), with 14 “known” cases in Beijing. Xinjiang, the furthest point in China from Wuhan reported two cases yesterday. Thousands in Wuhan are being turned away at the hospital and told to stay home because they can’t handle anymore patients. Cutting off air and rail doesn’t completely close off Wuhan, people can still get out via civilian cars (albeit they check your vitals at highway crossings). It’s not like they are putting a dome over the place. I would avoid China until at least end of February after the lunar new year travel season (it’s a fifteen day holiday), to see how bad this thing has spread.

    Avoid Taipei as well, many expats that work in mainland China are returning home this week. It is the single most travelled to place outside of mainland China right now.

    If you must travel right now to the region, put your flight nerd hat on. Use flight radar 24 and only choose flights operated by planes that have not been in China during the past 30 days.

    Godspeed.

  35. Based on your parents concerns and new information coming out (especially since there are now multiple confirmed cases in Beijing as well), I think cancelling China is wise, but I wouldn’t cancel the rest of Asia.

    China has travel bans to Taiwan way before this thing started, so that makes the country even more safe.

  36. Lucky, stay safe. Stay out of the People’s Republic of China. The Republic of China (Taiwan) is ok for now but keep a close watch.

  37. I think it makes sense for you to not go through China to put your parents mind at ease. I would do the same. I wouldn’t cancel your Asia trip unless the WHO makes a major announcement today (which they might).

    For me, I booked an award ticket for my family traveling from NY to Hong Kong to see friends and then going to Vietnam and routing back through Shanghai (all on business class!).

    As of today, I am not rerouting or canceling based on the following: 1. The virus is lethal in a very small percentage of cases (2.8%) and almost all of them were either elderly or had a preexisting condition. 2. The opinion of the WHO expert panel is that China has been speedily forthcoming as opposed to the last time with SARS. 3. China has quarantined Wuhan and neighboring cities. 4. So far, the virus is thought to pass from human-to-human contact through close contact (i.e. its not airborne). 5. My travel is not for another three weeks. If any of these facts change, I may change my mind. My main worries are that the virus mutates and becomes easier to transmit or the Chinese New Year travel will exponentially increase the number of cases or China has not shared significant facts with the WHO or CDC. Obviously, if the CDC imposes a non-essential travel ban to China I will re-route.

  38. Lucky,

    First, I hope your mom is managing her illness.

    It does not seem that your folks get anxious enough about your travel that they regularly intervene in your choices. This may be an instance where you just respect their request whether it has a substantial foundation or not.

    You’ll surely have other opportunities.

  39. Question @Ben. You say your tickets are non-refundable so am guessing you booked discount business class which may have a no refund policy. Have you looked at upgrading the cost of upgrading the ticket so you can change it vs having to buy a new ticket, or if it does have a change fee then just moving the ticket to a later date. I would not cancel. I do this all the time in economy as we are forced to buy Discount Economy and often need to make last minute changes (yes I do realise this is not always cost effective). In terms of cancellation – if you are cancelling Beijing, then I would cancel the others. Again it is NY at lots of Chinese take this time to go on holiday. Lunar NY was my favourite holiday period as I would take 3 days leave and end up with 9 days off work. I always used to go away. Sri Lanka was packed with Chinese tourists during this period, as was Niskeko and Myanmar. The virus has already spread outside China (confirmed cases in US, Singapore plus others). Apparently there are 4 suspected cases in Scotland. The expat forms are fascinating to read at the moment. With that I am heading away for the long weekend in Australia (Hayman Island on IHG points of course). Good luck with your decision. Do what is right for you and your family.

  40. @Sir Fly a Lot. You’re obviously not a doctor, and you should be careful not to dispense bad advice and bad information. Common flu can kill you for the same reasons SARS can kill you: there often isn’t a vaccine that works, there isn’t a cure, antibiotics do nothing against viral infections, and hospitals can only provide supportive care people who contract it. You either die or your body eventually fights it off.

    Saying that the flu kills “because people are ignorant and not take precautions and shots” is flatly wrong and rather insensitive to victims of the flu. As I mentioned in a previous comment, in any given year, the “flu shot” or “flu vaccine” is only 50-60% effective: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000. Someone can do everything right, get all their shots, go to the doctor immediately after getting symptomatic, and be killed dead by the virus. It happened to the child of a pediatrician we know, a doctor who was certainly in the position to do everything right in terms of consultation and health care.

    There’s significant difference between the common flu and outbreaks like SARS and the Wuhan coronavirus. SARS/Wuhan has killed very few, while the incurable common flu kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. The SARS outbreak resulted in about 800 deaths worldwide. The Wuhan outbreak has killed a couple dozen to date. The common flu kills between ~300,000 and ~650,000 people worldwide every year; in a typical year between 30,000 and 60,000 Americans are killed by the highly infectious, continuously mutating flu virus. In 2017-2018 800,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the common flu. Even many who had their flu shot and saw their doctor.

    Are we comfortable living in the midst of an ongoing epidemic that has no cure, often no effective vaccine, and strikes Americans down by the tens of thousands every year? Evidently we are.

  41. When there were Ebola a few years ago in Western Africa, later many country required travellers to report, if they had been traveling to Western Africa in the past 6 months. And boy, that got me a lot of pain. There are places where you just don’t lie to an immigration officer, like Singapore, Russia, Australia, USA. In all of these contries I had to step aside, had a longer interview, in Australia, they even asked a urine sample, and had to wait 5 hours for the results.
    I am pretty sure, if this virus situation escalates (or it doesn’t even have to escalate more), many countries will have these questions.
    I am having an upcoming HKG trip in February 5th, and just cancelled it, because I don’t want to get into these situations again (even though I am 100% sure, that I would not get infected)

  42. @Kendor

    Giving medical advise is fine, providing that you stated being a health professional. But please don’t give family advise.

    Everyone has different personal and family values. Long time readers all know that Lucky is very close to his parents and is a filial son. If cancelling an unnecessary trip means less stress for his elderly, all powers to him and we should salute him.

  43. Five other chinese cities have been put on travel restrictions and they have cancelled new years events in beijing. That should tell you all you need to know about how seriously this is being taken. Gotta love the people who keep suggesting its no big deal. Don’t see how non-essential travel to China would be worth the risk right now at least not until we have some firm grip on what is going on.

  44. My wife and I are in the same situation. We have a well overdue 3 week honeymoon starting 2/9 lax to tokyo then HK, Thailand, Seoul and Beijing. Not sure what to do. Would be very difficult to get the time off work again.

  45. I’ve never seen so many statistics experts in one place, good lord.

    But seriously, Ben- just scrap the whole trip and do it another time. You can literally go anytime you want, just go to Asia when this whole coronavirus thing dies down. It seems unnecessarily stubborn and risky to go despite everything going on.

  46. I can understand not wanting to worry your family by flying through China, but I think canceling the entire trip is unnecessary no matter what angle you’re looking at it from. It seems like the rationale you’re considering for canceling your entire trip is not actually concern over catching the virus but rather not wanting to add to the hysteria that may be occurring there? I’m not sure how a westerner traveling completely normally could add to that in any way and frankly I figure continuing on with business as usual would probably have the opposite effect if anything. This close to departure I’m sure there are so many open award seats and routings available to get you to Taipei without touching mainland China. I say go for it.

  47. @Sir Fly a Lot: Lucky asked for advice, I offered him advice related to his post with the best of intentions. I don’t give advice unasked. Lucky asked.

    Responding to your point, sometimes the most loving thing you can do for parents and others you care about is to set boundaries and push back. Being a good son or daughter doesn’t mean obeying every last wish and whim. Elderly parents are still in a position to grow, learn, and be challenged in a positive way.

  48. @kendor LOL. Are you being paid by the Chinese government to post here? You went to China and aren’t dead? That’s your proof that it’s safe?? Or that your kid has a respiratory illness, but will be fine? Ooook. Apparently whatever medical school you went to uses anecdotal evidence instead of scientific evidence? One of the things to note that you didn’t mention is the mortality rate. SARS was 10% and MERS was 34%. That’s 1 out of every 10 people that caught SARS died. 1 out of every 3 people that caught MERS died. It is inconceivable that a “doctor” would even compare the flu where the mortality rate is closer to 0.1% in the US.

    @Ben Agree with your choice to cancel China. As for the rest of your Asia trip – go, but wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and anti-viral wipes/tissues to take precautions. Despite low chances of catching it outside of China, there’s no point in leaving it up to chance for the minimal inconvenience of wearing a face mask or wiping your hands once in a while.

    BTW, Naomi Campbell had it right all along!!

  49. @Kendor
    Are you serious? When has Lucky’s parents EVER tell him not to go to xxx country? This is one of the rare times where they are seriously concerned, not to mention everything going on with his mom, and you think he should “push back” right now?

    You sound like an amazing son and a great person.

  50. @TravelLawyerMom

    1) I’m not an MD and never represented that I was. That doesn’t mean I can’t make some useful comment about relative risks that people face every day based on the CDCs own stats and science.

    2) SARS and MERS are not the Wuhan coronavirus. I don’t know why you think mortality stats for SARS and MERS are relevant to the Wuhan outbreak. The common cold is also often a coronavirus. Would it make any sense to graft SARS and MERS mortality stats onto people who contract the common cold?

  51. @Ryan
    The Influenza killed around 80k people in the 2017/2018 season. The highest for several decades. It’s not 800k.

    Seriously!

  52. @David Calm down. I advised Lucky to “live for himself” and make his own choice. I offered a brief meditation on when to listen to parents vs. when to follow your own path. I didn’t advise him to push back in this case, or to go to China: those are all things for him to decide, IMHO.

    The most concrete and direct advice I’ve given Lucky is to consider rerouting due to the very real risk that travel throughout the region will be disrupted.

    Most of my comment has centered around how alarmed we should all feel about the Wuhan outbreak versus very real risks we face from flu epidemic every day. I think that’s worth mulling over.

  53. Totally understandable about the China portion. Otherwise, all should be good. Yes, there may be panic but frankly you blogging about you steering clear is inducing it (not that I fault you in any way). If it’s not an immediate health risk, do it!

  54. I understand that some global companies have now issued no-travel mandates to employees for all destinations in China (not just the Wuhan area).

    I’d cancel or reschedule for worry about inconvenience, or risk of getting caught up in a quarantine, either within Asia or upon return to US. Not worth the hassle.

  55. @B

    Ryan may be confusing the number of hospitalizations in America due to influenza (800,000 in 2017) versus number of Americans killed by influenza (61,000 in 2017, according to the CDC).

    61,000 is still a pretty big number versus other everyday risks we face.

    Table 1 on the CDC page I linked earlier has some great information, breaking down number of illnesses reported, doc visits reported, hospitalizations, and deaths due to influenza:
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

  56. Yes, cancel. For all the reasons that are concerning you. Will probably be a relief once if you make that decision.

  57. This virus isn’t even that serious unless you’re a child or an old man. I could understand avoiding China but skipping Asia altogether? What kind of man are you Lucky?

  58. I agree that I’d skip China but do the rest. A big part of the reason I think like that is that I don’t trust we are getting the full picture or accurate statistics for China right now. The numbers aren’t terrible statistically speaking but I don’t trust them. Many other countries are a lot more transparent. My spouse is living in Beijing right now. I was living there a month ago but came back to the US for a winter break with the kids. We are supposed to return soon but I had been considering delaying it due to reasons that have nothing to do with the virus. Now, I’ll certainly change my flight later. I’m waiting to do it though, seeing if change fee waivers are announced before our scheduled date.

  59. Cancel China. Keep the rest of the trip. Your family’s peace of mind is worth more than some review.

  60. I think you should avoid contributing to panic. Sure, re-route away from mainland China. Do normal precautions for hygiene — don’t touch your face without washing your hands, and wash your hands often and thoroughly, which you should do anyways. I venture to say you are equally at risk in a major American city as a city in Asia. In fact, I think the sars situation made neighboring countries even more on-top of their scanning and quarantine game than we are.

  61. There are Business class award flights tomorrow night from IAH to TPE. Seems like a good way to get there to do the rest of your trip while avoiding mainland China.

  62. Might as well take the opportunity to review long haul EVA J again? A lot of things changed since your last long haul 3 years ago (new amenity kit, PJ, table cloth etc.), and should be interesting to take it before Starlux, given Starlux’s founders history with EVA.

  63. You answered the question yourself when you wrote that you believe the situation will get worse. If you only had you to worry about, then perhaps yes but that does not seem to be the case. It’s painful to face the lost money, but I would cancel. And if you decided to proceed, be patient because intra-region travel likely will be unsure and re-entry into the US will certainly be a p.i.t.a.

  64. As of now there’s only 1 confirmed case in Taiwan, and most Mainland Chinese passengers are not allowed to transit in Taiwan to go to a third destination.

  65. I would be avoiding transiting through any Mainland Chinese cities right now and especially Beijing and Shanghai. Not because of the risk of infection but because of the risk of quarantine as was mentioned above. If it starts to spread within Beijing and Beijing is shut off next, you really don’t want to find that out when you’re on a flight to Beijing! I would probably be comfortable transiting Hong Kong and Taipei for now.

  66. A week after coming back from a work trip to Japan I got sick. I was very released when it turned out to be just regular flu. I am supposed to go to Japan for another work trip next week but I am postponing it

  67. Again, I will say, unless you are a child or an old man, this isn’t even that serious of an illness.

  68. @TED do ya punk ?

    It is what it is. We are better equipped now than the SARS outbreak in 2003. I think mainland China is more advanced . However there are a lot more flights globally in 2020 than there were in 2003. So we’ll know more in the next week about the ability of the corona virus to spread.

  69. Fully agree about cancelling the trip to China due to the safety concern. However as a Chinese, I have to point out that Chinese Gov hasn’t downplay or lie about the number of infection or death. Wuhan has decoded the sequence of the virus within 7 days and presented to the WHO in order to share the information with other countries. And in fact, the confirmation about this virus requires time, and the availability of the tool. This will cause the delay of confirmation. All informations are clear and transparent on WHO and Chinese. I don’t know why Westerner always think the worse of Chinese, don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that everybody has concern, that why I support people don’t come to China just for now. But everything in China westerner can always link to bad governing or cover-up or corruption. The key of better world in understanding and communication, I support Australia when they are having the big fire, and everybody is supporting, even the PM was in Hawaii, I don’t see many mocking on the internet. Why Chinese have to bear the worse assumption and hate, the double standard is huge.

  70. @ernestnyyang

    Yes, except there have been (and will be) hundreds of thousands Taiwanese businessmen/expats and their families returning to Taiwan for Chinese new year this week. EVA and China Airlines (not Sir Chinaa) actually increase flights every year during CNY to bring people home.

    This virus was maybe containable, but Chinese new year just threw everything about of the window.

    Any commoner in China without any medical or statistical knowledge knows what the new year migration can do to this thing. For those people who are not Chinese or expat in China and have not seen the magnitude of CNY travel firsthand, you have no idea ….

    @travellawyermom @ David

    Like I said, different people have different values and were raised differently. All we can do is support Lucky’s decision based on his values and believes.

  71. Seems to me you already have your answer (which is not wanting to worry your parents). Because the alternative is if something did happen to you, you would indeed worry your parents, and you wouldn’t be able to blame your readers who suggested you not to cancel. Although there is no guarantee nothing bad would happen where you live. I mean things can happen wherever we are. So, stay and enjoy your time with your loved ones. You don’t need to engage all the time with your readers for the sake of content.

  72. We just canceled our trip to Vietnam 🙁
    We had to go through Hong Kong and we couldn’t retour. Our trip would have been in two weeks. We just think it wouldn’t be a nice vacation because if somebody sneezes next to you, you probably are getting terrified. It was a hard decision for us because we really wanted to go but I also think Vietnam confirmed 2 cases already.

  73. Take the trip. Ignore the fear mongering in the media, all they care about is driving traffic. If you must, avoid mainland China and wear a mask if it helps you sleep better. Worst case scenario, if you got the virus, you’d fight it off no problem and it would make for a great story.

  74. I just cancelled flights to PEK from LAX via TYO planned tomorrow… My partner cancelled his yesterday, but I couldn’t decide until now… We had two nights in Beijing.
    I was texting back and forth with a friend of mine in LA who is from Beijing, and he told me not to go to China altogether, any cities in China now and cancel my trip. He insisted. He is sure his government is hiding lots of bad information/facts and why WHO believe that!? I may/may not get infected, but I could bring the coronavirus with me here and spread it without knowing because of no symptoms. It’s not worth to take the risk. Glad to hear his parents and family in Beijing are fine for now…

  75. @david, haha well said! “China is the butthole of the universe”. We should be talking about a widespread boycott, not just one trip.

  76. I’m actually flying to HK on Sunday for 4 days and on to BKK, KUL and SGN for 2 months. I’m concerned about HK but not the other countries. I am on immune surpressants as well do to a rare disease. I’ll be wearing masks and bathing hand sanitizer.

  77. Good Afternoon Luckey, I know you have been waiting for my comment, my advice is to cancel all travel for the next year then take another look, get under the bed and start ordering from door dash, but wear a mask when you answer the door.

  78. China Southern direct flights to LHR have been cancelled until further notice. The problem is a fear starts to take grip you can’t predict how governments will respond in other countries, will they start cancelling flights to keep the general public happy! Do you want to be stuck in the middle of a political hot potato, struggling to get home. If it’s not urgent then why put yourself through it, there’s plenty more time after this blows over to make up lost trips and miles.

  79. This is funny, saying China is a butthole is allowed, defend it is not allowed, don’t delate my comment unless you delate those hate comment. What is this called? Free speech right? I thought this is the westerner’s pride.

  80. Whilst I can understand your concern about flying to China at the present time I certainly wouldn’t be cancelling the rest of the Asian trip. If its spreading, its spreading a lot further than Asia including to the US, Europe and South Pacific. Plus, as you make your living from travelling the world & visiting these countries and then leveraging that knowledge, it doesn’t seem reasonable to abandon them all at the first hint of a problem. They will all need the revenue from the business and tourist dollars that your readers generate visiting those places so you need to continue playing your role.

    In the same way, overseas reports of Australia’s fires are horrific (and it is horrific but only in specific areas) but because of those reports people worldwide are cancelling their trips right across Australia for months to come. This will damage those communities for much longer than the damage from the fires. Tour operators are on flights to the US & Europe already trying to encourage people to get back to Australia. A visit will be much more valuable than a one off donation as welcome as that is. The Asian countries need the tourist dollars in the same way so its wrong to suggest that the virus is affecting everyone everywhere. You visiting and giving first hand accounts would be of tremendous value to those economies.

    If it makes you feel better a full plane of passengers arrived in Sydney yesterday from Wuhan and each of those people was apparently examined in a separate containment area for signs of the virus and it appears that on the whole plane there wasn’t one person with any symptoms at all.

    Get yourself a P2/95 mask (ordinary paper masks don’t make a difference) if it makes you feel more secure and hop on a plane!

    Safe travels & Be Lucky!

  81. @david, @Ken, You guys are loser, a white trash, and don’t call your home name out loud I know you are living in a butthole. The world hates people like you, and you are the enemy of the world.

  82. This is a tough one. You, and many more people slated to travel in the next 24-48 hours, are dealing with a rapidly evolving situation in which it certainly seems that Wuhan is undergoing a health calamity but we don’t yet know enough about the nature, spread and danger of the disease otherwise. That said…

    Don’t go to China.

    Beyond that, I’d suggest assessing your likely anxiety level. Would you be worried for a good part of these flights if some folks on the flights had masks on? if someone sitting near you on the flights – or in the airports or hotels, for that matter – was coughing or sneezing? If the incubation period for this illness ended up being several days or longer, and you spent that time after you got back worrying about whether you’d contracted it? If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then I’d suggest the trip isn’t worth the worry.

  83. KENDOR: third world infrastructure??the US//? Guess your a true left Libber!!Not a nice comment…I do agree with the comment about your Parents anxiety.. How old are you?

  84. I would cancel the Beijing portion to give your parents peace of mind, but do the rest of the trip. Flying exposes you to lots of potential germs. It’s part of your job. Just wash your hands a lot and you’ll be fine. (Taking cars in less developed countries like China, India and South Africa is far riskier.)

    Personally I am hoping some deals with miles open up in Asia due to paranoia as I am planning a holiday in late March and early April. Have a good trip.

  85. Ironic that people believe China can control this: SARS proved that China will lie and mislead to protect the Government. Social media has been heavily censored and all reference to this virus had been deleted. Enormous pressure has been put on the CPC and finally as it begins to spread outside of China, they are taking action. Too little too late. Too many people have left Wuhan and over the next few weeks, we’ll see the consequences of their inaction.

    Now the world can see why HK people do not trust the Central Government nor our own: they lie and they cheat to enrich themselves and protect their power. This may also be the case in the US but this crisis is not happening in the US so such comparisons are irrelevant!

  86. Um. Flu kills 20-30k people a year on average. And while some are the elderly or frail, plenty are in reasonably good shape.

    That’s from me, infectious disease specialist MD that actually does this on a daily basis.

    As for travel, do cancel. It’s unlikely to be super deadly, but MERS had a 30% fatality rate, so u don’t know.

    Also, as you have noted, disruptions are happening already in travel. Who knows what other quarantines, diversions or chaos is in line.

    Unless you are a best man at a wedding or would lose several thousands in travel-related costs, skip it.

  87. Its not worth it. Cancel the whole trip and go later when things settle down. As others have said, you’re doing your part to keep the risk factor down, you don’t know what you could bring home.

  88. You’ll always have another chance to travel. Therefore, risking your health and maybe even your life is simply not worth it. If you find no reason to worry, your loved ones will for sure.

  89. You are right to not trust the Communist Chinese Government. I wouldn’t cancel the rest of the trip. A quick check shows Eva Air has business class award available through United from Seattle for the next couple nights for 83.5K miles, and of course you can transfer from Chase. Taiwan used to have a lot of Mainland Chinese visitors but not any more (true for the last couple years), and I certainly trust the Taiwan authorities. Just remember to wear a facemask and bring some hand sanitizer.

  90. This is just mass hysteria. Anyone who has even a shred of common sense would’ve researched the virus and found that a) all deaths have involved people with preexisting conditions and b) the symptoms, while serious are not horrendous.

    There are people being screened in the UK to test if they have Coronavirus. All results so far have been negative and I’m not scared if one comes up positive. If you’re really paranoid wear plastic gloves and a mask.

  91. Looking through the replies here, I think the more rational and well thought-out replies advise you to stay the course and not cancel your trip. Except for one thing, your desire not to worry your parents. Since you’ve been to Asia many times, I’m sure you’ve seen that face mask-wearing is much more common than it is in North America at any time. China has reacted to this virus with strong measures and has not reported a significant spread beyond Wuhan at this time. Every time I fly through nearly any Asian airport, there’s a temperature detection machine at work. And don’t forget, there are 1.6 billion people in China and 17 deaths. Pretty good odds. BTW I flew on the morning of 1/1/2000 and planes did not drop out of the sky.

  92. @ Ben — Please keep spreading the paranoia. This will help kill Chinese tourism, cause a global recession, and finally rid us of Trump. Awesome.

  93. Cancel, China and Starlux will be there tomorrow. And if I’m wrong, then all the better team to not have gone. What’s the worst that happens, you’re out a few bucks and get to plan another trip! What. Ok n there other side could be a lot of things from challenging inconvient travel, to, well, people are dying…. Will that happen to you, no, but when there’s high emotion going on in a region, it doesn’t make for the most comfortable travel. Why put yourself through it now???

  94. I will say two things: This particular coronavirus doesn’t appear to be lethal (outside those already immunocompromised) and you’ve already removed China proper from your itinerary.

    So, go, enjoy Starlux, and stop giving in to meaningless paranoia.

  95. I am not an MD, not an infectious disease specialist, never went to Medical School, hated biology in high school, don’t stay at Holiday Inn Express(it is Four Seasons or bust!)

    However, I can read and do math comfortably at the 5th grader level so I feel I am qualified to give my $0.02 here. So here it goes:

    The latest 2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary Burden Estimates from CDC:

    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

    Worst-case death rate based on Illnesses from the CDC link above: 17,000/13,000,000 = 0.13%

    Best-case death rate based on illnesses from the CDC link above: 6,600/18,000,000 = 0.037%

    Again, SARS Basics Fact Sheet from our friends at CDC:

    https://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/fs-sars.html

    “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS during the 2003 outbreak. Of these, 774 died.”

    SARS death rate = 774 / 8098 = 9.56%

    Once more, MERS fact sheet from our amigos at CDC

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/about/index.html

    “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Most MERS patients developed severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.”

    Finally, from our fake news freunde at New York Times:

    https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-coronavirus.html

    “At least 600 people are known to be infected, and at least 18 have died. Most of those infected lived in Wuhan or had recently traveled there.”

    Wuhan Coronavirus death rate: 18 / 600 = 3%

    In conclusion, 30-40% > 9.56% > 3% > 0.13% > 0.037%

    So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, my 5th grade analysis. I don’t know about you folks but getting the flu in the US, imho, is nothing like getting the SARS, MERS, or even the Wuhan Coronavirus, as far as potential death is concerned.

    Lukcy, first time poster and long-time lurker here. I hope my little rudimentary 5th-grade analysis help you in your decision-making.

    Safe Travels!!!

  96. I wouldn´t cancel your entire trip but just the China sector. This flu is gonna spread out very fast and in US there is one case in Seattle area according to an article I read.

    Use surgical masks ( the comon ones) and wash your hands very offen.

  97. Its still very safe to do your review trip, the parts without setting foot on China anyway. As far as I know Taiwan Malaysia and Philippines are still pretty much safe and you will be back in a couple of days anyway not like you are here for weeks?

    Things can esculate but not that quickly. Unless you do set foot on China.

  98. While you can definitely avoid traveling to China, you can’t avoid the bulk of Chinese traveling out to different parts of Asia in view of the lunar new year long holidays. I would avoid unnecessary travel for sure

  99. @Ben, since you seem to be attempting to parse relative risks in an honest way, I’ll offer a few comments on your self-described fifth-grade analysis of flu vs. Wuhan outbreak lethality:

    1) Your morbidity and mortality numbers at the CDC link only cover a four-month period in the US of A, Oct. 2019-January 2020. This immediately negates the value of the rest of your calculations. Better would be to look at the numbers at the following CDC link, which show morbidity and mortality for year-long periods for the past decade or so:https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html. If the CDC is to be believed, common flu has most often killed between 30,000 to 60,000 Americans every year in recent years.

    2) It is somewhat meaningless to compare mortality for the flu in America, a first world country, to the very early numbers we have out of China for the Wuhan outbreak. China is still developing, especially outside of the first-tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing, etc.

    3) It is somewhat meaningless to consider mortality for MERS or SARS simply because it is also a scary “coronavirus.” The common cold is also often caused by a coronavirus. You wouldn’t suggest 10% mortality for the common cold, or mention it in the same breath as MERS, would you?

    4) Like clockwork, the common flu kills between ~250,000 and ~650,000 people worldwide every year. Sometimes it mutates into truly scary variants like the Spanish Flu, which killed 50 million people.

    5) The number of people actually infected by the Wuhan coronavirus is unknown. It certainly is more than 600. Odds are that many people are experiencing or have experienced mild cold-like symptoms, and because they are healthy people, their bodies are fighting off the infection, just as healthy people do with the flu. They will get on with their lives, develop immunity, and not even bother to learn of the true nature of their infection. The people who have died have tended to be immunocompromised or had cirrhotic livers, according to the New York Times. Without knowing the actual number of people who are or have been infected by the Wuhan coronavirus, your fifth-grade mortality calculations are suspect.

  100. Your balanced flight decisions, especially considering non-refundable tickets, is a good decision; looking forward to your coming review especially StarLux. I am certain that China is implementing proper health protocols while taking necessary precautions. Happy and safe flights

  101. Keep the rest of Asia trip, most authorities of other countries are on high alert for any signs of the virus and sometimes the news just blows things out of proportion.

    An N95 mask or a surgical mask can also be used as protection to be on the safe side.

  102. Lucky China aviation just announced free refundable tickeT if flying Chinese owned airlines I would call hainan find out more on this

  103. They just closed down the Terracotta Warrior exhibit in Xi’an .. just got this

    Dear Mr.

    We are sorry to say that the terracotta warriors is closed due to Wuhan coronavirus. It’s unclear when it’s reopen. Do you want to cancel or wait for further notice?

    Best regards,

  104. Ben. Your calculations are okay. But, bear in mind, we have known about the flu for a long time and have a good idea when to suspect it and we have good, rapid tests for it.

    For MERS, SARS and certainly the new novel corona virus, we have no idea how many people were actually afflicted, how many escaped diagnosis and how many were not ill enough seek hospital care.

    It took us a decade to realize 99% of people with West Nile only had a mild, flu-like illness and that we had overcalled the severity of illness because we were only testing and diagnosing the sickest and not the average patients.

    Right now, when you are looking at the corona virus, u have no idea if u are looking at the whole iceberg or just the tip, which means we don’t know what the denominators are in the types of calculations u are suggesting.

  105. Lucky I’m guessing you already made your decision but I would say just cancel the whole trip. Every flight you want to take (well maybe not Hainan) will still be around in two months. Your insurance should cover the non refundable parts, but even if they don’t it’s only a few thousand dollars which I suspect for you is not going to break the bank. There are a billion other worthwhile things you can do during the time you would’ve been away as well.

  106. I understand it’s tough, but there hasnt been any large panic in other parts of Asia. Flying UA to SFO from SIN this week;not loving the idea of spending 20 hours in an economy cabin, but there isnt any real concern that I’ll contract the virus.

  107. @Kendor I was previously replying to YOUR post were YOU compared the new coronavirus to the flu in the US. At no point did I state the new coronavirus was SARS or MERS. My point is that they don’t have complete stats for the new coronavirus yet, and until they do, the ones they DO have stats on are very concerning – enough so that taking relatively simple precautions make more sense than not. You can feel free to rationalize your decisions to travel to China all you want, but in light of the escalating death toll of the new coronavirus, now at 25, you should feel lucky that you were not infected.

    OT: I must have recalled incorrectly that you said you were a physician in another thread. (I see other commentators also thought you said you were a medical professional.)

  108. PEOPLE, DON’T BE PART OF THE PROBLEM AND GO TO CHINA TO RISK BEING INFECTED AND SPREAD THE VIRUS. How do you think it reached US, Thailand, Korea?

    PLEASE BE PART OF THE SOLUTION AND AVOID ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL. The unprecedented lockdown of a 10 million people city, larger than metro Chicago, should ring every alarm. HK wasn’t even on lockdown during SARS.

    PLEASE DON’T TRAVEL TO/FROM CHINA.

    THANK YOU,
    People of the world.

  109. @AK you brought up some very interesting and important issues that are, unfortunately, way above my pay grade, which is the fifth grade

    I don’t know if this new Wuhan coronavirus is more like the West Niles or more like the septicemic plague. I will let people who are way smarter than me to figure that out. And there seems to be an abundance of smart infectious disease and geopolitical experts on this travel blog!

    However, I do know one thing – one can only make a decision based on what information he has, not what he wishes he had.

  110. @TravelLawyerMom My pop is an attorney too, and he liked to say that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. But come on, be intellectually honest, Mom: can’t you simply stipulate for the court that you previously were basically confused about how MERS, SARS, and the common cold are all coronaviruses, and that you were fundamentally mistaken about their relative lethalities?

    Here’s what you wrote previously, I’ll let the thoughtful gentlemen and ladies of the jury make the final determination of your meaning, intent, and probable lack of understanding: “One of the things to note that you didn’t mention is the mortality rate. SARS was 10% and MERS was 34%. That’s 1 out of every 10 people that caught SARS died. 1 out of every 3 people that caught MERS died. It is inconceivable that a “doctor” would even compare the flu where the mortality rate is closer to 0.1% in the US.””

    So there have been 25 confirmed deaths to date due to the Wuhan coronavirus in a country of 1.4 billion. If it pleases the court, can you draw upon your extensive knowledge and expertise to advise how many people died of the common flu in China and America during the same time period?

    I agree that it’s too early to know exactly how many people were killed and infected by the Wuhan coronavirus. More study is warranted. But it’s also way too early for your cocksure pronouncements about risk and responsibility. Go back and re-read your discourteous initial reply to me, and contemplate the many many things you don’t know, including, apparently, my choice of major. I consulted with three medical professionals this week, including an infectious disease specialist about the responsible course of medical tests and treatment for my three-year old, with whom I’ve been at home with all week long. You pontificated and judged about this and that with no real insight or knowledge. Humility is an asset and a virtue, even for students of the law.

  111. I forgot to mention this important thing.

    The jump in numbers from few weeks ago could mean 2 major things.

    1. China is trying to cover the whole mess up.
    2. THE VIRUS MUTATED AND COULD BECOME DEADLIER EVERYDAY.

    STOP THE TRAVELLING.

  112. The incubation period is up towards 14 days, and many people already started their holiday on the 18th, so the closure of Wuhan and surrounding cities came too late to stop the spread. It’s very likely the Chinese government is fudging the numbers, most reported deaths have been people in their 70ies and 80ies, and a lack of tests to confirm infection of the new virus means the numbers reported are far, far too low…

    I live in a neighboring province here in China, so I’m stuck having to wait it out – if I had been you I would have cancelled the trip for sure!

  113. I’d say avoiding mainland China is probably a good idea at this point, though based on current advisories, canceling travel to the rest of Asia seems unnecessary. BUT, I’d keep a very watchful eye on things. As others have suggested, personally I think your biggest risk isn’t getting sick, but getting caught up in a quarantine somewhere. Monitor the situation closely and be prepared to alter plans/move on quickly if needed.

  114. Interesting that fear of bringing back a virus that might spread to family, friends and random strangers is never mentioned as a factor.

  115. @Kendor. Thank you for your feedback. My 5th grade analysis is always suspect, but that’s, unfortunately, the limit of my analytical capability.

    If you don’t mind, can your express your 30-60K annual flu deaths in the US over the last decade in terms of percentages like I did(Flu deaths / illnesses)?

  116. I HAD to fly during SARS for business and was in Asia quite a bit. I was surrounded by people in masks and it was disconcerting. I was at risk but I worried more about the risk I may be putting others in. If I could have said no I would have but my job depended on the business deals.

    I think we have a responsibility to others. If it is necessary you have to travel then I understand. But for reviewing airlines I just don’t it is worth it. You may be fine but the risk of transmitting to someone else (even if small) just does not seem appropriate.

    I have been on too many flights where CDC comes aboard and we have to stay seated until CDC clears the passenger. I know I am never happy about worrying what is going on so I try not to place others in that situation.

    Hopefully, this will be contained soon. I prey for all those affected.

  117. @Ben Your modesty is not quite convincing, but I do find it endearing. (Aw, shucks.) Of course being a pretty smart guy you recognize the much more meaningful metric would be to tabulate the average number of deaths due to influenza in *Wuhan* for this time period versus the number of deaths thus far due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

    I’m a simple guy prone to cooking, gardening, and househusbanding, but I’m guessing that calculating things in this way would lessen the distinctions which come about as a result of greater wealth and access to healthcare in the USA (as well as possible other factors like sanitation, exposure to animals and animal parts, etc.) . You’ll have a much clearer sense of relative lethality of the two disease processes, and a much better idea of what you should truly be worrying about. A greater sample size and length of time would be helpful.

  118. Don’t cancel. As you can see by the above comments the level of Sinophobia in this country is insane, the media feeds on it, and that’s why its being reported so feverishly (pardon the word). As other commentors have said, the Chinese media could report that the US is an unsafe place to travel to because around 15k people die each year from a disease that mutates yearly so there is no cure. There’d be no lie in any of the positive statements in that sentence — its the flu. Clearly that’d be sensationalist reporting trying to stoke fears about a foreign country, and that’s what this reporting is as well.

    Not all of Asia is the same, and there’s almost certainly no greater statistical harm traveling to Taiwan now than there was three months ago. Years ago there was a huge scare about MSG that turned out to be 100% false, yet still people believe that Asian food has high MSG, which is purported to be unhealthier than normal salt and leads to headaches and is in fact neither of those things.

    That said, if you honestly feel that your reviewing would be worse becuase of your anxiety, then don’t go.

  119. easy solution: don’t go within 200 miles of Wuhan. I think Beijing is fine.
    Wear. A. Facemask. It looks super ugly, it’s really hard to breathe through, but at least you know you have a lesser chance of getting the virus.

  120. Really? Is it possible not to get hysterical, clutch our pearls and throw our arms in the air before actually thinking about the issue? 300 plus people have been infected in a city of 30 million, in a country of a billion and a half. Yes its not nice, yes two to three dozen people very sadly, may have died. It is infectious, it is a concern and needs to be treated with the seriousness health authorities are doing.
    Statistically, in Australia, pregnancy kills more than that (sorry, silly me, that doesn’t affect men…) cars kill more than that, and as far as health issues; tobacco, asbestos, and alcohol kill more than that.
    No, this is good old fashioned “yellow peril” and frankly I find it disgusting. By all means don’t go to China, but just note it is nothing to do with your health; it is racism pure and simple.

  121. Death toll up to 26 today, one death reported in Heilongjiang (by Siberia, ~2000km from Wuhan. So much for containment…

  122. Honestly I won’t worry about much Taiwan.
    Indeed the PRC government is supposedly stopping tourist visas to Taiwan (the last batch should have already been issued) to punish the new government elected by the people. Surely, there are still plenty of businessmen and women heading back to Taiwan for the holidays but if you stay put in Novotel at Taoyuan or even one of the better hotels in Taipei, I won’t worry much.

  123. I can certainly understand wanting to cancel your China portion, but I wouldnt cancel the rest of your trip. Go, review, and enjoy. 🙂

  124. Blanket fear is to be avoided.SARS is 10x safer that flights go through Iranian air space…..chances are better than being shot down…

  125. I’m in the exact same situation. I’m schedule to fly JFK to BKK with a layover in shanghai. My father is very uneasy about me flying through mainland China. I am not too concerned once I am in Thailand. I will only be in mainland China for about 6 hours. Flying China eastern. Thoughts?

  126. smart move. otherwise wear face protection. I’m concerned about the lack of protection in other countries. We don’t need to do something because there are no direct flights from Wuhan to the country? WTF This will spread very fast through all the are travel. Also China is probably not telling the whole story.

  127. I mean, the virus is in Seattle, so are you cancelling any US travel as well? Wuhan is 655miles from Beijing (over 1000km). Almost like saying “something is happening in Chicago, should I travel to Boston?”.

    Comes across Lucky, like you’re being a standard American, with zero view of the outside world. Had marked you down as better than that.

  128. Just cancel. You can go another time. The anxiety that it will induce in your Mum and Dad; with you travelling through the area, regardless of if it’s safe to do so, isn’t worth giving them stress over. Do it another time.

  129. A virus in our world has no borders.

    People from mainland China are all over the world these last 10 years as compared to many less travelling during 2003 SARS. You can do the math.

    Take care where ever you are or go.

  130. What is surprising is that you aren’t concerned about Manilla and the volcanic issues? I canceled my flight to the Philippines after reading Global Rescue’s data.

  131. @Jordan umm the person in Seattle was not infected in Seattle and has been put in a specialized isolation unit. Nice try with your nonsensical comparisons.

  132. @Anthony What I find disgusting is your virtue signalling and casually throwing out the racism card. People have a right to be worried. People rarely voluntarily put themselves in situations where the probability of death is higher than 1%. Since this is a new strain, we have no idea how lethal it is yet. If you could read Chinese, you’d see that the on-the-ground reports from nurses and medical professionals in these Chinese cities point to a much larger problem than the officials are letting on. The fact that you trust whatever statistics that government is putting out shows you know very little, yet still feel like your opinion is somehow qualified.

  133. @Anthony

    “No, this is good old fashioned “yellow peril” and frankly I find it disgusting. By all means don’t go to China, but just note it is nothing to do with your health; it is racism pure and simple.”

    I agree with your above statement 110%, Anthony. It is 200% racism against the Chinese people. How dare the Chinese government and Communist Party do the following things to the Chinese people based on ONLY 26 deaths and 830 cases!!! Don’t they know that the Influenza kills more people in the USA in one single week!!!

    – 12 Chinese Cities on lock-down.
    – 35 million people restricted for travel so they won’t be with their family for the most important Chinese holiday of the year! I am outraged!!!!
    – They closed down the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, The Terracotta Warriors in Xian, and Shanghai Disney. My bad, Disney is American so I guess that’s really not racism.

    There are 1.5 Billion people in China and millions and millions of Chinese are inconvenienced based on 26 death. It got to be racism. There is no other logical explanation, even my 5th-grader mind knows that.

  134. I doubt if I would go given the uncertainty and apparently rapid spread, China has been around for many years and will be there after this issue has past. Personally I would not want to be in the fireworks business in Wuhan but would love to have loads of masks to sell.

  135. I think even cancelling travel to China is an over-reaction. The media is spreading mass hysteria about this illness. I def wouldn’t cancel travel to the rest of Asia.

  136. @Thomas

    Being on a plane for 15+ hours in close quarters that has been flying in and out of China, and then another ~5 hours to Bangkok with possible carriers of the virus should be more concerning than your layover.

    @Nick

    China is the last place you want mass hysteria, and the government has been doing whatever it can to disallow that for decades. Everything is always “fine and harmonious”. The government cannot control over a billion people if they all go AWOL.

    The fact that they are closing down an entire city, thus creating mass hysteria on its own without the help of western media, is a sign that this thing is bigger than we think. Our coverage here does not hold a light to the coverage in China.

  137. Yes, it’s all just the media. Medical experts at the CDC and WTO are also over reacting. Same thing goes for China, closing off one city after another and building new hospitals for the infected, totally over reacting due to hysteria.

    Do people even try to think critically for a second? This isn’t just the US and media, this is international health organizations and the Chinese government themselves reacting strongly because they’ve assessed the risk and potential damage.

  138. I would only cancel the stop in Beijing. Going to the Philippines in a few weeks with the family On CP via HK no worries.

    PS: DAVID you’re comment about China is extremely rude and in poor taste. There are a lot of Chinese readers on this blog.

  139. I’m in the same situation with a holiday in Shanghai booked where I will meet my son who is travelling from Beijing. I have decided to cancel too because of parental pressure and I think my son will be better staying put than travelling around. I feel the pain of the Chinese people who are all very worried and so not a great time for my holiday. I have a week or so before I should go. I am waiting to see if the UK gov recommend not travelling to China which would help me get a flight refund, I think

  140. This is a joke right? A serious travel professional cancelling something due to a risk so slight? Come off it you have better stories to report. Or news so little? Get another job.

  141. I would cancel the trip. I cancelled my trip in Early March to Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Here are my thoughts ( Mine only and others may not share):
    1. there is no enjoyment in a vacation if you are constantly worrying and afraid of getting sick, having to wear masks, not going to public places or markets where others are.
    2. to wear an N95 mask ( not a dust mask) and wear it properly – putting it on and taking it off, because you have to change them every 8 hours and dispose it safely without contaminating yourself is difficult for people (unless you are medical staff). If you recall SARS 17 years ago, it was very hard to breath with N95 masks on for very long. The tight seal is for a reason. If you are comfortale wearing an N95 mask for more than 40 minutes, you are wearing it wrong.
    3. getting the Novel Coronovirus while away will be a PAIN, likely not die but you will suffer and may be stranded in a country, not allow to fly back given persistent fevers that accompanies this infection that can lasts for days to weeks.
    4. they are reporting asymptomatic carriers now – infected but no symptoms that are silent spreaders – this is my biggest worry – bringing it back home to my friends, children, and elderly parents and patients ( I am a MD).
    5. N95 Mask is not enough … you will need surgical gloves, glasses or full face shield – for the droplets from coughs and sneezes that land on your face or things you touch. And CHANGE the equipment regularly. Once the mask gets moist – it is useless and becomes a magnet for bugs. Your clothes , if you come in contact with someone, will need to be washed in high heat to destroy viruses or sprayed down (? lysol) or else you will contaminate yourself by handling them later. And who has enough clothes when packing to be able to wash everything after wearing it.
    6. you may consider hibernating alone for 5-14 days after you return to make sure you don’t have the infection before seeing others or returning to work ( this is not a possibility for many of us – not to work, hide from kids etc…)
    7. Thermal scanners are not enough to catch the infected and asymptomatic carriers – which is why the best method if to limit international travel. Sounds harsh but yes. Which means the person you are sitting next to on the plane, in a restaurant , can have it and well….you have to take off your mask to eat don’t you?
    8. Normal Influenza A virus kills thousands every year. We do panic in the medical field, as we see cluster cases in nursing homes and ER departments. We close hospital wards off to contain it. This novel coronovirus is not your typical coronovirus , it can mutate and when it does, it can be more dangerous. We are just in the start of flu season, it still has plenty of time left to mutate.
    We don’t have vaccine to reduce the severity or duration of the infection or the use of Tamiflu for those exposed or infected.

    So, I don’t think you should go. Unless you think this is your last trip in your life to see Asia . Otherwise, protect yourself and your loved ones and others. Delay non essential travel.

    PS. There are more cases in China that are not counted. Many are being turned away from hospitals. The number of infected it much higher. Many still think they are okay while infecting others unknowingly. Closing down cities will not work unless you plan to close it down until no new reported cases in China and waiting a latency period of 2 weeks….and reporting of new cases requires a country to be honest about reporting . Once the cities are open again, the infection will spread again. Closing down China altogether till flu season is over in May may be the only way. LOL – that will never happen.

    Chinese New year is a concern for right now given all the International Travel of Chinese people.
    March Spring Break – to Asia ( which is when my trip with kids supposed to be…sniff sniff ..canceled) will be another period of concern.

  142. Don’t forget to be cautious about the incurable pandemic back in the United States and elsewhere: For the 2018 flu season, more than 7% of Americans who went to hospital because they were suspected or confirmed to have the common flu subsequently DIED from its lethal and incurable effects, according to the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

    I’m told that by next year the flu will have mutated into a different and possibly more lethal form; governments are doing almost nothing to prevent its spread.

    Safe and responsible parents may wish to consider homeschooling, nightly Doordash, and a trial separation. Minimize human contact, it’s probably safer. Consider the children: choose life.

  143. All such self-imposed cancellations make sense when you are watching the situation from outside. I am connecting from domestic to international at Beijing airport now (Jan 25), everything is quiet, peaceful, friendly and smooth. It is China minus the crowds.

  144. @SC That was an excellent take! That’s why you are a MD and I can only think at the 5th grade level.

    I personally found the following bullet point insightful. Thank you for sharing, @SC

    “8. Normal Influenza A virus kills thousands every year. We do panic in the medical field, as we see cluster cases in nursing homes and ER departments. We close hospital wards off to contain it. This novel coronovirus is not your typical coronovirus , it can mutate and when it does, it can be more dangerous. We are just in the start of flu season, it still has plenty of time left to mutate.
    We don’t have vaccine to reduce the severity or duration of the infection or the use of Tamiflu for those exposed or infected.”

  145. I cancelled a RT Island Hopper with return transiting thro Narita for next week. United is offering waivers for flights in the region, no questions asked. I suspect other carriers will as well and your non-refundable tickets will be refundable. My philosophy is to control your controllables. Ben, I’d rather read about a different adventure, not a Virus adventure. Let us know what you decide. Safe travels.

  146. I would definitely cancel my trip to China. A few doctors are saying that there could be up to 100,000 cases now! The local government always downplays these situations to save face.
    If I were too stressed out about traveling to other Asian countries, I would cancel the whole trip. If I was cool about it, I would just avoid entering mainland China.

  147. Why is this even a question so many people have died. There should be no flights into China at all from wherever you are flying from. This will spread to Europe because all people care about is money not loss of lives it’s disgusting how there are still flights. This is a country that eats dogs and cats rats bats and snakes this was a ticking time bomb. The government are not telling the truth because they care too much about money when they will care is when someone high up dies. This is something that needs to be contained and not brought into the rest of the world. Why is it still ok to fly into this country.

  148. Stay in the IS.

    But be aware, that more people are shot by guns in the US every day, than are dead by this virus.

  149. Some of you people need to get a lobotomy.
    The only way to stop this thing spreading is to totally stop all travel to and from China (unless it is already too late)
    Any person who thinks this is just another fear thing is a total idiot. This is not your common flu virus.
    To the absolute lunatic that described the US as the most dangerous place on earth needs to be incarcerated in an insane asylum (PS and sterilized).
    The airlines are not going to act on our behalf. They regard profit way ahead of human safety and the people who make those decisions you can bet they are NOT traveling to China.
    There is absolutely no reason why suspending travel to and from China is less important than SAFETY! Get a grip on reality people. The world will be there in a month or three’s time and you can then travel again, most likely. Lets kill this off before it kills us off. I have been to the orient many times and not just in the five star bubble hotels but in the bottom ends of their society and one thing is for sure, if you have ever visited any of their food markets you will never eat anything in those countries again. HYGIENE is an unknown concept and contact between humans and animals is more than close. Lets be be totally frank here – these countries are low class sh*t holes polluting themselves and the rest of the world.

  150. I travel to Melbourne on 1st March, long stop in Beijing.
    Trying to get a refund from Air China, no answer from them.
    I don’t think its worth the strain.
    Any advice ?

  151. Cancel China, Taiwan is completely fine! And the Taiwanese government is handling the situation pretty well, so I’ve read!

  152. Taiwan is safe given the hate from the Chinese communist party blocking Taiwanese visa for Chinese people
    Hong Kong is no because the current leader is busy licking China’s butthole, ignoring people of or in Hong Kong
    The Philippines is safe after the returning of all Hubei people these after founding the first case
    Penang is safe, no case had been found yet

    try rerouting through a non-leisure destination, because many of the Wuhan escapers are treating their supposedly isolation as a vacation.

  153. Update: my 3 year old and 6 year old did not contract coronavirus from their month of adventure in China, including some of the places where cases have in recent days presented themselves.

    I kept my kids out of school for a week and dutifully stayed home with them because I’m “responsible”, despite the lack of any evidence that they actually had coronavirus.

    Infectious disease specialists who know more than just about anyone commenting here or on the NYT said in so many words that our concerns were unwarranted AKA somewhat emotional and stupid.

    Calm down people. Watch your driving and watch out for common influenza. It is incurable, it is continuously mutating, it cannot be fully vaccinated against, and it is killing Americans all around you right now in an incurable pandemic.

  154. It is irresponsible any airline is continuing flights in and out of China on international routes. This new virus has a 14 day, no symptom incubation period and is causing severe respiratory distress in 1 in 4 people who get it. It is not containable unless they halt international flights. If you have had ordinary pneumonia, you know that virus will knock you flat for 30-90 days even as a healthy young person and kills seniors all the time. I am disappointed CEO’s of airlines are not voluntarily halting flights to/from China. This needs to be done now. Let the Chinese roam freely inside their own borders, but keep that virus contained to their own country and offer assistance until the virus has been properly ID’ed and the rest of the world knows what we are dealing with. In the meantime it will keep spreading unchecked because people keep flying.

  155. Thanks for sharing your concerns, I have a planned trip to Taiwan in the 17th. of February and i have not made my mind about cancelling, since my travelling plan does not take me to mainland china (I have only one connection flight in Hong Kong airport and I have no planes to visit the city ) i do not think the risk is great but if the Taiwanese authorities will start closing main tourist attractions then there will be no alternative.

  156. I have to fly to the Philippines in June/August and.. now flight tickets with connection in China are so cheap…

    Based on previous pandemics, how long could we expect this crisis to stays. Weeks? Months ? Years ?

  157. @Kendor your agenda is showing

    To everyone else, you should always think twice before believing anything the PRC (and all the corrupt organizations under its influence *cough cough* WHO ) says. https://nyti.ms/3aT71wo The PRC wants everyone to believe the narrative that somehow its different this time around and they didn’t try to cover things up. Nope, it is still the same PRC, lying and deflecting.

    It is not too far-fetched to believe the Chinese government waited until January 23rd to let the cat out of the bag so as not to spook domestic consumption during CNY – ironic how it has backfired. I wonder how big the economic hit to China and the world economy will be this time around due to this corrupt dictatorship regime’s decisions.

  158. Don’t do it! You may not be going to mainland China – but your fellow passengers…you don’t know where they’ve been, and if they have the virus or not. Then you risk catching it and bringing it back home to the States. People shouldn’t be traveling anywhere near China right now. Either to or from. It’s very irresponsible. This is a novel virus – with a high chance of mutation, and I do not trust the low numbers that have been reported out of China. Be cautious. If you must go then please upon return self quarantine for two weeks and be extra vigilant and cautious on the return flight.

    I understand the expense of the flights. Will your credit card issue you a refund? Probably best to buy refundable tickets for Asia from now on.

  159. The situation in other Chinese cities outside of Hubei have been really not as bad as the media reported. Unfortunately the airlines cancelling the flights have caused more problems for my family than the virus itself. My mother was supposed to be flying back from Shanghai this week with China Eastern, direct flight to JFK, but her flight was cancelled. It’s not because the Chinese airlines have also decided to started restricting flights like other airlines, but presumably because of the US travel ban has led to very few people still flying. I managed to find her an alternative flight at the very last minute and hopefully that goes through. If she is to be stuck there, she would have to go through the US consulate and request evacuation, she has been told it can take up to a month (!!!). Meanwhile the general mood in Shanghai among locals is cautious but not overly concerned, the virus has only infected 100+ of the 30 million people there. To us, this was a problem created by the airlines and US panic rather than the virus.

  160. @Katherine

    Perhaps if the Wuhan government had heeded the advice of the 8 doctors early in the crisis, instead of detaining them and making them self-criticize themselves, this pandemic would be much more manageable. And we wouldn’t be where we are today and your mother would be home soon.

  161. @Ben

    I’m not disputing the situation is serious in Wuhan and there are many things that can be said about how it could have been handled better. Though hindsight is always 20/20 anyway. But in reality, the virus is quite low risk for North America and other places around the world. I totally understand airlines cancelling flights from Hubei, but to cancel all flights is an overreaction.
    I do think it’s a good call for people not to fly to/through China right now, just out of concern that the flight schedules can change on a whim.

  162. @Katherine,

    I am willing to guess that the general mood among the Wuhan locals was also “cautious but not overly concerned” right before the lockdown took place:)) On January 23, there were only a total of 844 “confirmed” cases, I believe.

    It stinks that your mother is stuck in China with no easy way out, but our policy makers have to make decisions for the greater good of our country. There is still much we don’t know about this virus, and being extra cautious is the right approach, imho.

  163. Well, a problem is that the Philippines has more or less 1 Million mainland China Chinese living in it so I’d say if your stay here is like 1 or 2 days continue but if it’s like a week or more then don’t. But don’t cancel the entire thing. Just don’t steer through China.

  164. Hey Ben, I’m not sure if you went through with your plan to come to Taiwan or not but wise call not going through China. I’m sure at that point it wasn’t as severe as it is now but like you say, China aren’t exactly reliable for sharing all the necessary information.

    I live in Taipei right now, I’d love to catch up and we can chat over a cuppa (or coffee). How about it?

  165. We had flights scheduled via Taipei to Japan leaving at the end of the month. Booked with Chase points on China airlines. China airlines has been cancelling some flights, but looks like they won’t cancel ours and they will not offer refunds if we cancel it. Chase is no help either. Does anyone have advice on handling this situation? We are not going on the trip, just want to see how to deal with the air tix.

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