What is the impact on travel insurance?
It depends on your national government’s current advice. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), “anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance”.
If you want to cancel a trip to areas which the government hasn’t advised against all-but-essential travel to, you run the risk of not getting a refund.
This is because travel insurance is not designed to cover “disinclination to travel”, which would be the case when the UK government hasn’t advised against travel to the area, said the ABI.
What is classified as “essential” travel?
The ABI advises that you check with your travel insurer if the reasons for your trip would invalidate your insurance.
“A holiday to the area is unlikely to be considered as essential,” its website states.
How many people and countries have been affected so far?
As of 25 February 2020, there are over 80,200 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 96% of those confirmed within mainland China. Over 2,700 have died, mostly in the Chinese province of Hubei.
The outbreak has spread across the world, with South Korea (977), Italy (270) and Japan (160) among the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases outside of China, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the US.
Do face masks help prevent coronavirus?
As The Guardian reports, regular surgical face masks offer no protection. More specialised masks, such as the N95 respirator, can protect against COVID-19. However, the wearer runs the risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching the outside of the mask where the viral droplets can gather.
What should I do if I have a trip planned?
The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US Department of State recommend against all non-essential travel to China. If you have upcoming travel plans to the country, reach out to your airline, hotel or tour operator for more information.
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19, first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, is a strain of coronavirus previously unknown to human science.
The first infections were linked to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, but the virus is now spreading from person to person
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats”.
What are its symptoms?
Symptoms of the virus include a cough, fever, sore throat, headache and breathing difficulties.
The virus can cause lower respiratory tract illness like pneumonia, especially for those with a weaker immune system, like the very young or elderly.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incubation period – between getting infected and showing symptoms – lasts up to 14 days.
How is the virus transmitted?
The virus can be spread by human-to-human transmission – for example, coming into contact with an infected person’s droplets in a cough.
As CNN reports, COVID-19 can also be transmitted by touching an object which an infected person has touched, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
How can you prevent its spread?
Here are the guidelines from the WHO:
Wash your hands frequently – Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand gel can kill the virus.
Maintain social distance – Keep your distance from people coughing, sneezing or with a fever – ideally, 1 metre (3.2 feet) away.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – If your hands touch a contaminated surface, you run the risk of that virus entering your body.
Practice good respiratory hygiene – Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (ideally with a tissue), and wash your hands afterwards.
Useful links on the Coronavirus
The BBC provides a visual guide to the viral outbreak, with key maps, graphics and stats.
The Worldometer website provides real-time statistics and updates on COVID-19 cases across the globe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) offers advice on how the general public can help prevent the spread of the virus.