With this week’s headlines, and your upcoming travel plans, I know that the CoronaVirus is on your mind. I’m sure you’re getting questions from friends and family, and you are looking for the most up-to-date, unbiased information that you can find. I can assure you that, as a travel professional working with many clients departing on trips within the next few weeks, I am closely monitoring this situation too.
Here's what I can tell you:
Your health, safety and well-being is my top priority, and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have. I will, of course, let you know if there are any cancellations/disruptions that will directly affect your plans. And you can feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Everyone is always excited about their upcoming travel, but lately a lot of people are talking about the Coronavirus and its spread in Asia. There are just a handful of cases in the US, but many are congregated to the middle east. Please remember that "fear of Coronavirus" is NOT a valid reason to cancel a trip that is under penalty. If you have a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy, the policy will cover this as a non covered reason. Refer to your policy for details on the coverage in this case. Whenever traveling and in your day to day routines, remember to wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and do the same with any kids. This helps prevent the spread of any disease/illness and can minimize this years terrible winter cold/flu season as well.
I've shared some basic information, but here are some of the current guidelines provided CLIA, the professional cruise line association for agents and cruise lines. (Released 1/30/2020)
The safety and health of passengers is the number one priority of CLIA members. CLIA and its member lines maintain close contact with health professionals and regulators around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), and are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances, as well as health, travel and contact screening where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently traveled from or through the affected area consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. Screening protocols allow for informed decisions on a caseby-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be denied boarding.
CLIA Members have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.
Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew. Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.
What is a coronavirus? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause respiratory illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
What is 2019 novel coronavirus? A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The virus at the center of the current outbreak is an example of a novel coronavirus, as the virus does not match any other known virus. This new virus is referred to by health authorities as the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV for short.
Which countries have been affected? The 2019 Novel Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, where the vast majority of confirmed cases have occurred. According to global health authorities, additional cases have been confirmed around the world, including in North America and Europe, however the majority of confirmed cases remain confined to Asia.
What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV? Patients with the 2019-nCoV have reportedly experienced mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including: • Fever • Cough • Shortness of breath • Breathing difficulties Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization
What steps can travelers take to protect themselves from 2019-nCoV? Leading health authorities are urging the same personal best practices that are standard for a typical flu season, such as the following: • Avoid close contact with people who show signs of illness, including coughing or sneezing • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization
Are cruise lines changing their itineraries due to 2019-nCoV? CLIA cruise lines are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances in some cases. Cruise passengers are encouraged to consult with individual cruise lines via their websites to be informed of the latest guidance available.
How are cruise lines screening passengers for illness? Consistent with the CLIA Public Health Policy for all oceangoing cruise ships within the CLIA fleet, all embarking persons are subject to pre-boarding health screening to assist in preventing the spread of communicable diseases. Pre-boarding health screening can include non-touch temperature readings—where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently traveled from or through the affected areas consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. Any reports or detection of symptoms of illness during pre-boarding screening can be managed by medical professionals from the cruise lines which allows for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be unable to board.
Have there been any cases of 2019-nCoV onboard a cruise ship? To date, there have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV onboard a cruise ship.
What measures are in place onboard cruise ships in the event of passenger or crew illness? Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew. Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.
Are cruise lines offering refunds to passengers whose trips has been impacted by 2019-nCoV? Passengers are encouraged to consult with individual cruise lines with regard to compensation policies.
What guidance are cruise ships following when making determinations regarding route restrictions? CLIA and its member lines maintain close contact with leading global health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization and others. CLIA and its member lines are also in contact with port authorities around the world to ensure alignment on guidance and procedures.
Where can I find additional information about the 2019 novel coronavirus? Please visit the following websites for more information: • World Health Organization (WHO) • WHO Travel Advice • United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Here is some additional information provided by the World Health Organization