Several countries, territories in Northeast Asia expanding health screenings, travel restrictions due to 2019 n-CoV activity. Delays likely.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Japan
  • Macau SAR / Zhuhai
  • South Korea

This alert began 28 Jan 2020 13:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Hong Kong and Macau, China; Japan; South Korea (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport disruptions, longer immigration wait times for passengers from China; possible quarantine

Summary
Several countries and territories in Northeast Asia are expanding health screenings and implementing travel restrictions for passengers from mainland China as of Jan. 28. The precautionary measures follow continued increases in reported cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in Wuhan and other eastern Chinese cities, as well as confirmed cases in several other countries in the region. Screening measures and travel restrictions vary across the region; as of Jan. 28, authorities have implemented the following measures:

Hong Kong

The government will implement precautionary restrictions from Jan. 30. The government will reduce flight routes with mainland China by half. Authorities will suspend high-speed rail and cross-border ferry services to mainland China indefinitely. Officials intend to close the Man Kan To and Sha Tau Kok checkpoints and reduce the number of cross-border tour groups entering the territory. Beijing will temporarily stop issuing personal travel permits to the territory. Nonessential government workers will remain on leave until Feb. 2, while the government could encourage some private companies to institute work-from-home arrangements.

Hong Kong will likely require health declaration forms for passengers on direct flights from mainland China; officials previously announced fine of up to HKD 5,000 (USD 643) for false declarations. Authorities could take passengers experiencing symptoms to hospitals for further examination. Thermal scanners are already in use at major transport hubs in the territory and some border checkpoints with mainland China.

Japan

Tokyo has expanded its health screenings nationwide to include all passengers from mainland China. Travelers will need to complete a health declaration and report any symptoms or potential exposure to officials upon arrival.

Macau

Officials have extended a public holiday through the end of January for government workers and encouraged private sector employers to do the same. Schools in the territory will remain closed until at least Feb. 3, but officials could prolong the closures if 2019-nCoV cases increase further. Authorities have banned residents from Hubei Province from entering the territory as of Jan. 27 and encouraged residents of the province to return home. The government is reportedly providing transport from hotels to the border. Mainland officials have stopped issuing personal visas to the territory as of Jan. 28. Some business closures, mainly entertainment venues, are occurring. While casinos continue to operate, officials have also deployed temperature screening equipment to all casino entrances in the territory.

While widespread transport disruptions are not occurring, officials have canceled several flights between mainland China and Taiwan in recent days. Passengers from mainland China must provide a health declaration form upon arrival. Macau authorities continue to implement enhanced health screenings; thermal scanners are in place at all points of entry into the territory. Increased security is also likely and border crossings with mainland China.

South Korea

Officials are expanding enhanced health screenings to all passengers from China at points of entry nationwide. Authorities have also increased security at ports and airports across the country. Measures are likely most intense at international airports with direct flights to China, especially Incheon International Airport (ICN). Officials will place passengers that visited Hubei Province, China, within two weeks of arrival and display symptoms under quarantine.

Additional transport restrictions and health screening procedures are possible in the coming days. The measures are unlikely to impact most travelers but may lead to immigration delays, especially for passengers from mainland China.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Plan for transport disruptions, especially if traveling between Hong Kong and mainland China. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings, especially if traveling from China. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with 2019 novel coronavirus, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.