Tours in China have been rerouted and cruise lines have introduced “enhanced” health screenings, while one tour operator has even advised guests to wear surgical masks when travelling in the country amid mounting concerns over the spread of a new coronavirus.
The outbreak of the deadly virus, which can cause respiratory infections, started in Wuhan before spreading to several other Chinese cities, as well as other major destinations, including Singapore, Japan and the US.
There have so far been more than 600 confirmed cases and 17 confirmed deaths, while four suspected cases were under investigation in Scotland on Thursday (23 January).
The Foreign Office is continuing to advise against all but essential travel to Wuhan and the UK government is monitoring flights arriving from China as part of a range of precautionary measures.
Wendy Wu Tours said trips due to transit through Wuhan airport had been rerouted, although all itineraries continued to run “as normal”. “Our passengers’ health and wellbeing is always our top priority and we will continue to closely monitor this situation,” said the China specialist operator.
Abercrombie & Kent UK’s managing director Kerry Golds said it was advising clients wear surgical masks as a precaution. “For any A&K guests travelling to China over this period, we recommend when flying or taking the train to wear surgical masks," she said, adding guides would avoid taking guests to crowded areas.
Robyn Nixon, managing director EMEA at Intrepid Travel, said: “There are currently no Intrepid trips running in China until 12 February 2020, so no clients or staff have been affected at this stage.
“As always, the safety of Intrepid customers and staff is the utmost priority and we’re closely monitoring the official advisories before making any decisions on upcoming departures.”
G Adventures said while its China tours do not visit Wuhan, it would follow the advice of the World Health Organization.
Kuoni added it was monitoring forward bookings for the next few months and would update clients “if necessary”.
Cruise lines also rushed to introduce extra health screening procedures onboard their ships.
A Princess Cruises spokesperson said the line had “implemented additional screening and response measures” onboard all its ships.
“They include temperature and questionnaire screening for all guests from the affected region and illness screening for cases presenting with fever and respiratory illness while onboard,” said Princess.
Royal Caribbean International said it had also introduced “enhanced” health screening for passengers and crew before boarding in China. “Our ships are prepared to take additional preventive measures as circumstances indicate,” the line added.
A spokesperson for sister line Celebrity Cruises added: “We continue to monitor developments in the region and are in consultation with health officials to assess the situation.
“We have implemented precautionary measures at the terminal and onboard the ship to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew who remain our primary concern.”