Airports around the world implement new measures in response to spread of a new Coronavirus
Countries across Asia and around the world are adopting precautionary measures at airports as a newly identified Coronavirus, which has sickened nearly 640 people and killed 17 in China, is starting to spread elsewhere including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The first case of the new Coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. for a Seattle-area resident who recently returned from Wuhan China where the virus is said to have originated.
Some countries such as Singapore are performing temperature screenings for all travelers on flights arriving from China while others are targeting passengers who departed specifically from Wuhan. Airline and airport workers are being asked to watch for signs of illness and many airports are providing informational pamphlets on the signs and symptoms of Coronavirus to travelers.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk for spread here is low but is still mandating the screening of passengers arriving from Wuhan at five airports including Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York JFK. Travelers who are returning from Wuhan will be rerouted to one of the above-mentioned airports, if they are not currently scheduled to make their point of entry there.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are thought to come from infected animals and cause a range of symptoms including a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. This virus strain is respiratory in nature. Some of those who have been sickened have only developed mild symptoms but in other cases it has led to pneumonia or even death. Other well-known Coronaviruses include MERS and SARS. It is unknown at this point if the new virus is as severe or as contagious as SARS.
Travelers are being advised to consider delaying trips to the Wuhan area and if they do go there to avoid touching animals or uncooked animal products. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is recommended.
Further delays for 737 MAX jets may impact future peak travel seasons
American, Southwest and United have all, once again, delayed the re-launch of their 737 MAX aircraft into their schedules. The latest announcements come as Boeing has uncovered a new problem with the 737 Max’s flight computer. Most recently these airlines had planned to re-launch this aircraft in April but now they have adjusted their flight schedules into early June. Some experts say an early June return for the 737 MAX is unlikely.
Because these delays continue to keep aircraft out of the airlines’ fleets, industry watchers say travelers can expect higher fares along with tight availability during upcoming peak travel periods. It also continues to negatively impact affected airlines’ operations as they have fewer aircraft to help recovery efforts during periods of irregular operations which is a blow for travelers.