Coronavirus Update

Feb 4, 2020

As of 3 February 2020, nearly 17,500 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with 362 deaths have been reported worldwide. Multiple cities in China continue to be under a central government-mandated quarantine that restricts freedom of movement. Notably, Chinese officials expanded the lockdown in Huanggang city, located in easternmost Hubei province, where reportedly only one family member may leave a household every two days to purchase necessities. All others must remain at home unless performing medical duties or seeking help. Authorities in the coastal city of Wenzhou, located nearly 795 km (490 mi) from Huanggang, have implemented similar measures.

In Hong Kong, thousands of hospital employees have voted to strike on 3 February to force Hong Kong officials to close all borders with mainland China amid growing concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong has thus far closed 10 out of 13 border crossings with mainland China. Likewise, Chinese authorities in the mainland have suspended visas for mainland residents, including those in Shenzhen, for travel to Hong Kong and Macao.

Businesses are announcing precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. For example, the American technology company Apple will close all stores in mainland China, citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. At least 49 airlines have temporarily suspended all flights to mainland China and 25 more are reducing flights in part due to the increasing number of countries denying entry to travelers coming from China.

Countries are implementing a varying degree of precautionary travel restrictions as the virus spreads internationally. During 1-2 February, numerous countries denied entry to travelers from mainland China, halted flights, adopted increased monitoring measures for incoming travelers, or implemented 14-day mandatory or self-monitored quarantines. The most recent countries to implement such measures — though not an exhaustive list — includes Australia, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Germany, Japan and Thailand are joining the rapidly growing list of countries evacuating their nationals from China. Additionally, the British government is evacuating its embassy staff. Evacuation flights are usually followed by quarantine. Moreover, passengers on evacuation flights to Australia, Germany and Japan have tested positive for coronavirus.

The U.S. Embassy and consulates in China will be closed from 3-7 February at the direction of Chinese authorities. Further, the U.S. is directing that flights arriving from Chinese airports land at seven predesignated airports inside the U.S. However, these restrictions do not apply to flights from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

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