The Coronavirus Outbreak

Article written Monday January 27th 2020 – see our latest update here

It has been impossible to ignore the news that has been broadcast across the world this weekend regarding the deadly Coronavirus outbreak in China, specifically the Hubei province.

What is it?

Coronaviruses are part of a larger family of viruses that cause illness varying from coughs and colds to much more serious illnesses that can result in death. The viruses, which are extremely contagious, are transmitted between both people and animals and common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The current position in China

A new strain of the virus that appears to have originated in China is spreading rapidly and crossing borders.

The epicentre of the outbreak is Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, however the FCO is currently advising against all travel to the entire Hubei Province. As at the time of writing, there are more than 4500 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 1000 in critical conditions and a reported 106 deaths.

What does this mean for the industry?

Whilst the UK Foreign Office is currently working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province, both British Airways and Singapore Airlines have already taken steps to assist those either due to travel to or from China, either by offering full refunds or waiving cancellation fees. Many tour operators are continuing with holidays and bookings to China; however the Hubei Province is being strictly avoided.

What next?

Thankfully, the virus appears to be currently restricted to the limited area of Hubei Province, however this could of course change over the coming days and weeks and is a topic that needs to be closely monitored.

Some of the queries we have already received and advised on include:

  • What if I have customers due to travel to Hubei this week as part of a package holiday?
  • Do I have to offer refunds to customers due to travel to Hong Kong?
  • Am I obligated to refund customers for a day trip to Wuhan, which is part of their 3 week package holiday?

If you have any questions or queries as to your obligations to customers either already in China, or due to travel in the near future, please get in touch to discuss how we can help.

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