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The latest updates on COVID-19

As of March 9, 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) there have been over 109,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 and just over 3,800 deaths worldwide. Over 100 countries now have laboratory-confirmed cases with the most affected countries being China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. (For continued updates on these numbers see https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd). In the case of China, reports indicate that COVID-19 cases are on the decline, which suggests spread of the virus may have peaked there and that transmission is slowing down.

It is also now being reported that early mortality rates are likely misleading as only the sickest people are being reported. Further, studies are finding that most of those who are experiencing more severe symptoms or who have died are elderly or have impaired immune systems. Most normally healthy adults are recovering well, and most children are barely being affected.

As concerns over the spread of Covid-19 continue, the U.S. State Department updated its advice for travel on cruise ships. “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.” 

Further, “CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease.  This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.”  This is advice remains fluid.  

Many airlines have further responded to fears over Covid-19 by suspending change fees on new reservations in order to build buyer confidence. Stipulations vary by carrier but many offer flexible rebooking options on new bookings through March 31. Travel providers such as airlines and rail operators including Amtrak, and more are altering select schedules to targeted destinations due to decreased demand. However, travelers should not assume that all airports, security check points, flights etc. are less crowded as we are now in peak spring break travel season and many flights as still operating at capacity as many people are still carrying on with their plans.  Travelers should reconfirm all arrangements and plans as some large-scale events have been cancelled.   

Overall, there are many things that you can do to be prepared and stay healthy. A critical part of that is to be educated. Here are a few things we know about the virus and what you can do to protect yourself and your travelers:

  • You do not necessarily need to cancel travel. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there shouldn’t be any travel or trade restrictions due to the coronavirus. The risk of being infected is low in many countries. (The State Department/CDCs advice on cruise travel as noted above is currently an exception to this.)
  • The virus is weaker than the regular flu. The virus seems to be a mild type of viral infection. There’s a 2% fatality rate and those 2% almost always have a pre-existing condition.
  • The virus is not airborne. It can only be transmitted by droplets and not through the air. This means that places like airports and airplanes are not high-risk as many precautions are taken to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Even if you are exposed, you can still avoid becoming sick. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, do not come in direct contact with unfamiliar animals or those who are infected, and always cook your food thoroughly.

If you do think you have been infected, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC was lifting all restrictions on testing for coronavirus. There are also new guidelines being released to fast-track testing for people who fear they have the virus, even if they are only displaying mild symptoms. **

Adelman Travel will continue to keep you informed as news develops. We understand that the uncertainty is difficult and will do everything possible to ensure the safety of your travelers.

Please visit: https://adelmantravel.wpengine.com/blogs/for-travel-managers/coronavirus-updates/  for all of our past updates and visit regularly for any new information.

Coronavirus Updates: March 10, 2020

Airlines again update polices in response to Covid-19

American, Delta and United announced that they will now allow travelers holding tickets to any destination in March and April to change or cancel their flight without paying a change fee, regardless of when they purchased their ticket. (Southwest already offers free changes as part of their standard policies.) Other airlines, which normally charge change fees, may also match this latest move. Check with your airline for complete details.

In what seems like a contradictory move, United quietly modified its refund policy when it reschedules flights. The change came after United announced it would be reducing its schedules by up to 20 percent internationally and 11 percent domestically. Under the new policy, United will only offer credit for a future flight (no refunds) if it can still get passengers to their final destination within a 25 hour window of the originally scheduled arrival time. Previously the window was two hours.  To review United’s full policy visit https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/help/faq/schedule-changes.html?irgwc=1&clickid=WftxjCwFBxyOUDMwUx0Mo3cjUknXaQ0-P3GS0s0

 

Government officials clarify advice on cruising

After the U.S. State Department issued an advisory regarding travel via cruise ships, (“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship”) both Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said the advice was aimed at older travelers and those with serious underlying conditions, not necessarily all travelers. Specifically in response to reporters, Dr. Fauci said, “If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason, if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship.”  Meanwhile, Pence, speaking after meeting with cruise ship industry leaders in Florida, said the advice was targeted to a narrower group: older people with serious health problems. “If you’re a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense and to avoid activities including traveling on a cruise line,” Pence said.

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