Coronavirus sparks alarm
Those in the travel industry with long memories will recall the downturn precipitated by the 2002 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in southern China, which resulted in about 800 deaths. Given the impact of SARS, there’s little surprise authorities have reacted swiftly over the last month, following the emergence of another similar virus, which has been initially linked to a large live animal market in Wuhan City, in China’s Hubei Province. The novel coronavirus (2019-ncov) is a new strain not previously identified in humans. So far 18 have died, and authorities in China have put Wuhan into lock-down, suspending all flights and train travel in and out of the city in an attempt to contain the disease.
Passengers aboard China Eastern Airlines flights from Wuhan to Sydney are being evaluated on arrival, while cases of coronavirus have also been confirmed in Japan, Thiland and South Korea. The Smartraveller alert level for Wuhan has been increased, with DFAT now advising Australians to “reconsider their need to travel” to the city.