Coronavirus Travel Alerts: A Global Public Health Emergency

Find out how your travel plans may be affected following the World Health Organization’s declaration that the coronavirus is now an official international emergency.


A night market in Wuhan, China Photo © Getty Images/Bo Wang

Coronavirus is declared a global public health emergency – 30 January 2020

Coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, and has spread across China and now dozens of cases have been confirmed in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

On 30 January 2020, the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General agreed that the coronavirus outbreak "now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)". A PHEIC has only been declared six times since it was introduced in 2005 following the outbreak of SARS.

What is a PHEIC?

The term PHEIC is defined as "an extraordinary event" which is determined by these two regulations:

  • To constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and
  • To potentially require a coordinated international response.

What should I do if I'm traveling overseas soon?

If you are traveling overseas soon, stay up to date with local news and media, and always follow the advice of local authorities or your government.

Be aware of which countries cases of coronavirus are rapidly spreading, and wash your hands consistently, try to maintain your distance from other people, and if you are feeling unwell cover all coughs and sneezes with tissues or your clothing.

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to other respiratory diseases, including the flu and the common cold.

If you have traveled to Wuhan recently

If you have traveled to Wuhan or suspect you have been in contact with someone who is infected with coronavirus and are experiencing the following symptoms: feeling tired, having difficulty breathing, have a high temperature, cough and/or sore throat, see your doctor to rule out the possibility of coronavirus.

If you are a World Nomads policy holder, read the latest insurance advice about cut off dates.

Thomas Cook Collapse - September 2019

Thomas Cook, the world's oldest travel firm, has collapsed stranding hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers around the world, sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history.

If you're worried about how this affects your travel plans, click here for more information.

Transit Strikes – British Airways –September 2019

British Airways’ pilots' union (BALPA) has announced it will strike on September 9, 10, and 27. If you have a BA flight scheduled on one of those days, you will likely not be able to travel.

British Airways is in the process of updating its schedule and is offering customers refunds or the option to rebook on another date.

Flights on BA CityFlyer, SUN-AIR, and Comair are not affected.

BA will be posting updates to this web page. If you think you’ll be affected, you can check your flight status at the BA website under Manage My Booking. If you booked through a travel agent, contact them directly.

Keep in mind that travel insurance coverage may not apply to affected flights if the airline has made an effort to refund or rebook your flight.

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