With the coronavirus cases rising significantly every day around the world, many travellers can’t help but worry about their holiday plans. Some of their concerns include if the destination they’re traveling to may be affected and unsafe to travel, or if the situation will turn for the better a month or two down the road.
Countries with a significant number of confirmed cases at the time of writing include mainland China, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. Recently, countries in Europe began to bear the brunt of the outbreak, with Italy, Spain and France recording a high number of cases. Therefore, we’ve decided to write a coronavirus travel advice — which is essentially a compilation of travel advisories and local updates — for travelers to take note and decide for themselves if it’s safe to hop on a plane to the other side during this trying times.
LATEST COVID-19 UPDATES
1. China 🇨🇳
As of March 13, 2020, The Star reports that the peak in China’s COVID-19 cases is over with the number of confirmed cases in Wuhan Province itself dropping to a single digit, and only eight new cases since Wednesday, 11 March 2020. Mi Feng, the spokesperson for the National Health Commission, said that the COVID-19 situation in China could be brought under control by June.
The number of new cases in China saw a gradual drop over the recent days since then, with no new local transmission cases being reported so far. However, the rise of imported cases meant that China is still not free from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last March 23, the first epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan City, has relaxed its stringent restrictions as the city reported no new cases. Some residents are able to go out of their residential compounds ever since the outbreak began. Some of the citizens are also returning to their work as businesses began reopening once again.
Stay updated with China's happenings:
Local newspaper: China Daily’s Facebook page
Travellers are advised to postpone all travel to China until further notice. Travelers who have returned from China should monitor their health for two weeks and minimize contact with other people. Travelers who develop symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath should seek medical attention immediately.
2. South Korea 🇰🇷
As of March 17, 2020, more than 80 new deaths from COVID-19 have been announced, with Gyeongsan — a city not far from Seoul — declared as a “special care zone” by the health ministry. With South Korea’s advanced medical system, the country has extended the necessary measures to screen arrivals from Europe. Prime Minister Chung ye-Kyun directed the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to go through necessary action and precautions to determine where the “imported new virus” stemmed from, Channel News Asia reports.
In the latest report by Reuters, the number of new COVID-19 cases has reached its lowest ever since the pandemic peaked in the country last February 29. The number of new cases has been decreasing over the past few days, which is a positive development for the East Asian country battling the pandemic. The drop in new cases has been widely attributed to the rapid and systematic testing of people who are suspected to have contracted the disease.
However, the outbreak is not yet over for the country. As of March 23, the total number of people infected is at a staggering 8,961.
Stay updated with South Korea's happenings:
Local newspaper: Korea Times
Tourism Board: Korea Tourism Organization
Travelers who have returned from South Korea should monitor their health for two weeks and minimize contact with other people. Travelers who develop symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath should seek medical attention immediately.
3. Italy 🇮🇹
Italy is confirmed to be the worst country hit by the virus in Europe. The government, along with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, announced on the 9th of March 2020 that the influx of funds is to be used to mitigate the impact of the outbreak. With all 20 regions of Italy having confirmed cases of COVID-19, it is a must to contain the outbreak at the highest possible level with an official lockdown on the country as of 10 March 2020, according to the Telegraph. All travel is prohibited all over Italy, as well as public events and gatherings throughout the country.
As of 17 March 2020, COVID-19 has left Italy with more than 27,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths in just the last few days — prompting the World Health Organization to escalate the epidemic into a pandemic. Italy has been on lockdown for days now, with locals being forced to stay indoors, singing patriotic songs in balconies in support of the trying times the country is in, according to the Guardian.
To further stem the COVID-19 cases within the country, the government has banned all non-essential movement across the country. Supermarkets, banks, and pharmacies will stay open. Travel between municipalities will be strictly monitored by the police, and will only be allowed for urgent matters and health reasons.
The COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of slowing down in the battered country. Last March 27, the country recorded its highest fatality rate yet ever since the outbreak. The surge in cases also brings the total fatality rate to almost 10,000. However, experts warn that this rate is much higher as retirement homes tend to underreport cases.
Stay updated with Italy's happenings:
Local newspaper: BBC News
Travel advisories: Read more
COVID-19 Information: Read more
Travelers who have returned from Italy should monitor their health for two weeks and minimize contact with other people. Travelers who develop symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath should seek medical attention immediately.
Travel is still prohibited all over Italy.
4. Iran 🇮🇷
Currently, Iran has the most number of COVID-19 cases in the Middle East. In late February 2020, Al Jazeera has reported that Iran has one of the highest numbers of infected civilians outside of China. This has prompted the country to close its borders — as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) — to lessen the risk of spreading the virus. An official advisory from the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was released stating the need for people to seriously consider avoiding travel as well as the need to take the government’s warnings seriously amidst the outbreak and health crisis.
As of March 18, 2020, Channel News Asia reports that the death rate from COVID-19 has escalated to more than 1,000 cases, which has prompted the health minister to close down schools and universities until early April. The escalating outbreak has also led to the postponement of the Abadan oil field until mid-April. China, along with the World Health Organization, has sent out more test kits and medical supplies to help support the country’s efforts to contain the outbreak.
As the number of cases escalates, the Iranian government has made sure to contain the virus from spreading by banning public events and gatherings. Pharmaceutical-Technology reports that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance announced that all film and TV shootings will be cancelled until further notice. Along with this comes other art and culture programs across Iran to close temporarily, suspending a ton of social and cultural activities that will have a bearing on Iran’s tourism and economy.
However, unlike other countries suffering a very high case of COVID-19, there is no nationwide lockdown for the whole country yet. Many Iranians are expecting a lockdown in light of the rising cases of people who have the disease. However, last March 15, the Iranian president declared that no city will be put under quarantine. The country is also facing a hard time with sanctions that were put in place by the US due to strife last January. Iranian officials have called for an end to the sanctions, but the US is adamant in lifting it. Instead, aid was offered — but Iranian officials declined the aid.
Stay updated with Iran's happenings:
Local news: Al Jazeera
Travel advisories: Read more
Travellers who have returned from Iran should monitor their health for two weeks and minimize contact with other people.Travel advisories have also been issued against travelling to or remaining in Iran due to rising tensions in the Middle East.
5. Japan 🇯🇵
The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced the implementation of a new law that would broaden the emergency legal powers of the government in handling the COVID-19 crisis that could extend until 2022, Japan Times reports.
Tourist destinations like Tokyo Disneyland will remain close until mid-April, while Abe reassures the country that the G7 countries will show support in their time of need to make sure the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will push through, according to Channel News Asia. Still, there’s a growing pressure from several countries to cancel the Olympics. Canada has already withdrawn its athletes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The cancellation of the 2020 Olympics will have a severe effect on the country’s economy, Japan Times reported.
Last March 24, the International Olympic Committee and the country agreed to postpone the 2020 Olympics by 2021. This comes after more countries agreed to pull out of the Olympics. The new schedule of the Olympics is yet to be announced.
Stay updated with Japan's happenings:
Japan Safe Travel by JNTO: Twitter page
Travel advisories: Read more
COVID-19 information: Read more
6. France 🇫🇷
France is the first country in Europe to report COVID-19 cases. According to The Sun, the French authorities have closed down a number of tourist spots like the Louvre and cancelled several huge events by March 2. The cases confirmed in France has reached past 5,000 cases, with Haute-Savoie and Oise having the most cases from the outbreak.
As of March 12, the French president Emmanuel Macron closed down several schools and universities. He advised people 70 years old and above to reside at home and avoid going out. France 24 reports that despite the viral outbreak causing more than 60 deaths and more than 2,000 infected people, the upcoming national elections will not be cancelled. On March 17, France announced the possible closure of its borders but only in coordination with other EU nations. Aljazeera reports that the government will also be deploying 100,000 police to further enforce the lockdown, while fixed checkpoints that will be scattered across the country’s borders.
Last March 22, the French parliament voted in favour of giving the French president expanded powers after it was agreed to declare a state of emergency for the whole country. The state of emergency will remain for two months after its adoption and would allow the government to support the struggling economy, as well as delay municipal elections scheduled for June.
There’s also an online advice site for people who suspect that they have contracted the disease, The Local reports. The online advice site guides and assesses people and advise them if they likely have the disease. The site was set up in response to the lack of widespread testing due to a newer testing policy where a person can only be tested if s/he fits a specific criteria.
Stay updated with France's happenings:
Local news: France 24
Online advice site: Maladie Coronavirus
COVID-19 information: Read more
7. Germany 🇩🇪
As of March 17th, the number of confirmed cases doubled to more than 7,000, according to the Robert Koch Institute for Disease Control. DW reports that Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt International Airport has had several flight cancellations and has had quite an impact on the country’s tourism. With an increasing number of cases daily, there aren’t many concrete figures in the next two weeks.
Channel News Asia reports that the German government is will be taking bigger steps to alleviate the spread of COVID-19. Jens Spahn, the German Health Minister, officially cancels all events that gather more than 1,000 attendees all over the country — some of which include Berlin’s travel fest ITB, and The Hannover Messe, to name a few.
To soften the impact of COVID-19 pandemic to the country’s economy, chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a plan to increase borrowing by as much as 150 million EUR this year. There’s also a 500 billion EUR bailout fund for companies affected by the lockdown and outbreak. Meanwhile, the chancellor herself is on quarantine after interacting with her doctor who was later diagnosed with the disease.
Stay updated with Germany's happenings:
Ministry of health: Federal Ministry of Health
COVID-19 Information: Read more
8. Spain 🇪🇸
As of 17 March 2020, there are more than 9,000 cases of COVID-19 infections in Spain, which were mainly probed from the regions of Madrid, northeast Catalan, Valencia, Castilla-Leon, Extremadura, and Castilla-La Mancha. Thus far, 16 out of 17 communities in Spain have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.
More than 10 staff members from the Valdemoro Seniors’ Center were infected with the COVID-19, with at least three who were infected and passed away from the virus in the same facility. This prompted health officials to close down 213 senior facilities in Madrid for one month, according to Channel News Asia. However, the ongoing crisis in the country has also resulted in the abandonment of some elderly people, with soldiers finding dead and abandoned bodiesin some centres.
The country has also announced that it will be extending its lockdown until April 11. People are only allowed outdoors if they need to buy food or medicines, seek medical help, or travel to and from work. To deal with the stress of being confined indoors, some have turned to renting their own dogs so that others can take a walk outside — after all, talking a pet for a walk is one of the allowed outdoor activities, The Local reports.
The worse may yet to come for the second-most affected country in Europe. The country’s highest fatality rate stands at 838 deaths. Worse, the influx of patients in intensive care units surpassed the country’s supporting capacity of 4,400 beds. The devastating effect of the pandemic has also brought Spain’s economy to its knees, with a bailout plan now being seriously considered to buttress companies and workers.
9. USA 🇺🇸
As of 16 March 2020, the US has reached over 3,500 confirmed cases of the notorious coronavirus, according to NBC News. This has spurred President Trump to implement a travel ban on Europe and any foreign nationals coming from or transferring from a European country. The Congress is also on a deadlock as they fight over a stimulus package aimed at saving the US economy.
Last March 26, USA surpassed any country in the world in terms of the total number of cases reported. The latest figures put the total cases at approximately 100,000 people. Moreover, the country is preparing for the worst as doctor Anthony Fauci predicted 100,000 to 200,000 deaths over the coming months.
New York City is topping the most cases with an estimate of at least 100 who tested positive for COVID-10. New York governor Andrew Cuomo immediately acted on this and deployed National Guard troops to the health department command post in New Rochelle, a suburb of the Big Apple. However, despite their best efforts to contain the pandemic, the city is seeing an increase in the number of new cases. It now has 5% of all the total cases in the world, according to The New York Times’ latest report. The high number of fatalities in the city has also prompted officials to build a makeshift morgue. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, has also warned that half a million New Yorkers could be infected.
The New York Times reports that big events and big names in Hollywood have been directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak as well. Actor Tom Hanks, along with his wife, Rita Wilson, were reported to have the coronavirus, while the much anticipated NBA season sporting events will be cancelled, according to CBS Sports. Politicians are not spared from the pandemic too, as senator Rand Paul announced that he was infected by the disease.
10. Singapore 🇸🇬
As of 4 March 2020, the Singapore Tourism Board announced that travellers who will be arriving the country with exhibiting fever and symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to do a swab test at the checkpoint as heightened precautionary measures. All other travellers should monitor their health closely for two weeks through a home quarantine rule upon entering or arriving from Singapore.
Singapore officially attains more than 200 cases of the COVID-19, with more than 100 more recently confirmed in recovery as of 17 March 2020. Despite the rise in Singapore’s COVID-19 cases, the government has still not yet implemented a nationwide lockdown. However, by March 22, the country had closed its borders to tourists and short-term visitors to stem the number of imported cases. In a worrying development, the country also saw its highest single-day spike last March 23, with up to 54 new cases alone.
Stay updated with Singapore's happenings:
Travel advisories: Read more
Local news: The Straits Times
COVID-19 information: Read more
11. Hong Kong 🇭🇰
Flights from Vietnam and Taiwan to Hong Kong are still operational as of March 2nd, according to Asean Briefing. It’s also been reported as of 9 March 2020 that Cathay Pacific Airlines will be closing its Vancouver, Canada base come June due to the increasing pressure the COVID-19 outbreak brings.
As for the US, the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State has raised its alert level to level 2 and advised its employees and residents to exercise increased caution in an advisory to Hong Kong on 20 February 2020.
With more than 150 confirmed infections in Hong Kong as of 17 March 2020, a travel warning has been raised to the entire country of Italy as well as a few parts of France, Germany, Spain, and Japan. There is also the issuance of a “Red Outbound Travel Alert” that shall be imposed on the UK, Ireland, and the US.
Meanwhile, experts are calling on the government for a much extensive testing procedure for those infected by the disease. The reason for extensive testing is to determine the true extent of the infection in the city. This comes after the government was widely criticized for delaying mass testing in a city where anti-government sentiments run high after last year’s protests.
Stay updated with Hong Kong's happenings:
Local News: South China Morning Post’s Facebook page
Daily Updates: Asean Briefing
Tourism website: Singapore Tourism Board
12. United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Unlike other European countries, the approach of the United Kingdom to COVID-19 pandemic is a bit different. While the cases there have now reached the 3,000-people mark, the government of the UK has still not declared a nationwide lockdown. However, the prime minister of the country, Boris Johnson, has already ordered public places to close down last March 20.
Public establishments like parks and pubs are already closed following a surge in the number of cases on the capital city of UK, London. However, the city is still not yet on complete lockdown. Most shops that sell non-essential goods and services have been told to shut down as hospitals around the city are being inundated with new patients with the disease.
As a precaution, the government is urging the practice of proper handwashing and other precautionary measures. The country is also deviating a bit from the standard guidelines posed by the World Health Organisation, reserving only the tests for patients with respiratory problems.
The specific guidelines laid out by the prime minister also includes restricting travel to essential ones. Those who are experiencing serious medical conditions are required to quarantine themselves at home. To manage the outbreak, the country has dedicated 12 billion GBP to support UK’s economy through drastic measures such as helping the struggling aviation industry.
Stay updated with UK's happenings:
Local news: The Telegraph
NHS website: National Health Service
Travel advisories: Read more
COVID-19 updates: Read more
13. Netherlands 🇳🇱
The Netherlands has reportedly more than 250 confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the Dutch government, the Dutch Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that travellers from Hubei, China will not be allowed in or through the country. As of 8 March 2020, non-essential travel to the rest of China is also advised by the MFA, the same applies to those who have plans on heading to Northern-Italy.
According to this website, the ongoing outbreak has not prompted the Dutch government to place any enhanced screening quarantine measures. According to Forbes, the Dutch government’s policy is to adopt a herd immunity strategy, which has been criticized for its effectivity and potential risk. The rising cases in the country have also prompted restrictions, but there is no nationwide lockdown yet. Travel within the country is still permitted, but non-essential shops have been ordered to close down and people are told to stay at home.
Stay updated with the Netherlands' COVID-19 updates:
Ministry of Health: The Netherlands’ Ministry of Health
COVID-19 Information: Read more
14. India 🇮🇳
As of March 4, India has implemented a health screening of the coronavirus symptoms for all international passengers, according to the Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan. The Hindu reports that fourteen tourists from Italy have caught the COVID-19 and were previously with the Italian man who first caught the disease in Rajasthan. Mass gatherings are also advised by Indian authorities to be avoided, which include temple visits.
There are reportedly more than 60 cases in India, with an official advisory urging Indian citizens to avoid non-essential and tourist travel to countries with high cases of COVID-19 cases, some of which include China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Asean Briefing reports that as of 9 March 2020, the state of Arunachal Pradesh announced that it will be denying entry to all foreign nationals as a heightened precaution to prevent the outbreak from spreading further.
As of 17 March 2020, India has closed all tourist spots in the country, specifically the Taj Mahal, to visitors. There will be a travel ban on all European travellers from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK as the number of cases testing positive reaches more than 100. With such a huge population, the World Health Organization has called on its government to place the country on a nationwide lockdown. A pandemic occurring in India would be disastrous as the country struggles with its healthcare system. The country finally heeded to the call on March 22.
Sporting events have also been postponed, including the IPL Twenty20 Cricket Tournament, and domestic football until further notice. Other establishments that have been shut down include schools, theatres, and cinemas, and a couple of dining establishments, which may extend up to one month amidst the outbreak in Delhi.
15. The Philippines 🇵🇭
The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19. The Star reports that the DOH raised the crisis to a Code Red Sublevel. The president himself, along with a few other senatorial staff will be testing for the COVID-19 as three of his cabinet members made contact with someone infected during a committee meeting, according to Asean Briefing.
As of 17 March 2020, 12 new cases were reported to have developed in Metro Manila, bumping up the total number of positive cases to more than 100. Despite school suspensions, Duterte has announced a “total lockdown” in the Luzon region, according to CNN Philippines, which will require militarization of entry and exit points within and outside of Metro Manila. This will also mean the suspension of transportation, and stricter work from home policies to be implemented by the private business sector. Residents will only be able to leave their households to buy food and stock up on medicine from supermarkets and pharmacies. Malls, bars, and other establishments are to be ordered closed in an effort to contain the outbreak.
Cebu Pacific Airlines have also declared the suspension of all domestic flights to and from Metro Manila. International flights will be unaffected and will push through but with extended self-quarantine precautions upon arrival of the passengers’ home country. As of 17 March 2020, Philippine Airlines announced the cancelation of all domestic flights, while stocks, bonds, and currency trading are in stoppage until further notice.
The country is mulling for an extension of lockdown as health officials and experts warn that lifting the lockdown on April 12 will lead to more cases. The number of active cases in the country continues to rise as of April 6 with more than 3,000 people having the disease. Along with the rise in cases, human rights activists in the country have come to criticize the government’s handling of the situation. The most recent criticism was directed at the president’s speech last April 2, wherein he urged the police to “shoot down” anyone who violated the curfew and lockdown measures.
Stay updated with The Philippine's happenings:
Local news: Philstar
Ministry of Health: Department of Health
COVID-19 Information: Read more
16. Cambodia 🇰🇭
There is currently no official travel advisory from Cambodia. The Westerdam cruise ship was given a green light to dock in Cambodia after three other countries refused access due to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has docked in Japan.
However, passengers were only allowed off after thorough health checks have been made on every single person in the 2,000 person-capacity ships. According to Asean Briefing, more than 700 passengers on the Westerdam vessel tested negative for the virus after getting off.
As of 13 March 2020, three British nationals were found on a tourist boat situated on the Mekong River. Aljazeera, all of which are above sixty years of age. The rest of the 61 passengers reportedly tested negative for the virus and will be isolated and promptly monitored upon docking.
Cambodia, as of 18 March 2020 has more than 30 positive cases of the COVID-19 prompting the imposed travel ban on foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the US for a month. Schools are suspended, while popular tourist destinations in Phnom Penh will be closed until further notice.
Stay updated with Cambodia's happenings:
Local news: Khmer Times
COVID-19 Information: Read more
17. Norway 🇳🇴
The travel advisory that was issued by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 February 2020 has stated citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to countries with widespread transmissions like Hubei, China, Iran, South Korea, Northern Italy, and Tyrol, Austria. NIPH advises travelers arriving from such countries and other infected countries to quarantine themselves for 14 days and monitor their health for symptoms of COVID-19.
In the northern part of Scandinavia, Norway officially hits more than 400 confirmed cases of the COVID-19, with one death resulting from the virus. It was also reported that Norway’s Ministry of Health and Care Services (HOD) that patients have been confined to a medical facility for the first time as of the 10th of March. Life in Norway states that several schools and universities have been shut down until further notice, followed by several big businesses suspending functions and work. The Oslo Stock Exchange and major airlines have suffered a lot since the outbreak started, with Norwegian making a decision to scrap 3,000 flight cancelations from March until mid-June.
The most cases have been found in the cities of Bergen, Oslo, Viken, and Trondelag. The Institute of Public Health was said to have issued a new advisory as of 10 March 2020, by canceling big events and mass gatherings with more than 500 attendees. They also reiterated the need to practice utmost cleanliness and for companies to adhere to a work-from-home arrangement with employees, which many Norwegian companies have abided by.
13 March 2020 brings the country of Norway to a much more severe peak of the COVID-19 outbreak with more than 800 who tested positive for the notorious virus. Forbes reports that the Norwegian government has declared the country on lockdown and began highly cautious and preventive measures to contain the virus at 6:00 pm CET on 12 March 2020. Establishments like restaurants, public gathering spaces, cultural events, sporting fixtures, resorts, and museums among others will be closed. Travelers who will be arriving in the country will have to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
18. Switzerland 🇨🇭
In the provinces of Ticino, Zurich, Geneva, Vaud, and Aaragu, Switzerland has reportedly confirmed new cases of the coronavirus as of 18th February 2020. The Local has reported the statement from Swiss health authorities, affirming that all infected patients are currently being treated in hospital isolation units and are reportedly in good health.
The Swiss government has also suspended all major events with more than 1,000 participants in the country until March 15th, 2020, to further heighten preventive measures during the outbreak.
As of 9 March 2020, over 300 cases have been confirmed in Switzerland which led to the Swiss government declaring the outbreak “special” under the terms of the Epidemics Act. Travel bans and cancelation of events fall under this special extension of legal power to further contain the COVID-19 from spreading in other parts of Switzerland.
The Swiss canton of Ticino is officially under a state of emergency due to the outbreak, with many schools, public and private establishments shutting down to further contain the situation. Some universities will still remain open at this stage, while limited border crossings available for certain occupations. The city of Geneva has declared several cancelations of events of over 100 attendees, as of 12 March 2020.
19. Australia 🇦🇺
Following the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the Australian Government has also put up a level 4, do not travel, advisory to China and Iran. All travelers who are arriving from Iran will be quarantined for 14 days.
The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison announced the activation of the protocol coined as the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19.) The Guardian reports last 7 March 2020 that a Melbourne based doctor who returned to Australia was infected by COVID-19 from a trip to the USA. Said doctor then came in contact with about 70 patients which left health minister Jenny Mikakos shocked for the blatant lack of responsibility seen in the hospital.
Qantas Airlines along with Jetstar has canceled almost 25 percent of their flights in the next six months. This will include routes to Asia and the US that are placed on public health emergency alerts, according to the Telegraph.
As of 19 March 2020, there are more than 600 positive cases of the coronavirus in Australia. This website reports that Queensland has more than 100 new cases, while Western Australia has more than 30 new cases, prompting the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison to pursue a ban on all non-residents heading back to Australia. He also declared the closure of borders to non-residents and non-citizens in order to contain the outbreak in many parts of Australia.
Stay updated with Australia's happenings:
Ministry of Health: Australian Government’s Department of Health
COVID-19 Information: Read more
20. Malaysia 🇲🇾
More than 30 active cases of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Malaysia as of 5 March 2020. The Malaysian government will be implementing a travel ban on passengers from the Westerdam ship as they also continue to repatriate Malays from Hubei, according to the Asean Briefing.
Malaysia Airlines also announced the continuous reduction of flights that will fly out to and from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, among others. Malaysia Airlines says that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee implemented the rule for passengers to fill up a Health Declaration Form upon entry, as well other precautionary guidelines from those who are coming from Singapore, Italy, Iran, and Japan. It’s been announced that Malaysia will be closing its borders with Singapore on a trial period of 14 days, as of 18 March 2020.
As of 9 March 2020, the government of Malaysia officially barred the entry and dockage of Costa Fortuna cruise ship that is reportedly inhabited by 2,000 people, the majority of whom are of Italian descent. With more than 700 cases active in the country, the Malaysian government is taking extra precautions to further prevent the outbreak from spreading, starting with travel bans via airline and cruise ship per se.
The number of cases in the country is still on the rise even as the Malaysian government implemented a movement control order (MCO) last March 18. Some of the most-hit areas include Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur, and Petaling and Hulu Langat in Selangor. The government also came under fire for posting tips with sexist remarks on social media. Since then, it has apologized to the public, saying that the original aim of the precautionary tips was to spread a positive message for families at home.
Stay updated with Malaysia's happenings:
Local news: The Star Online
COVID-19 Information: Read more
21. Thailand 🇹🇭
According to an article published on 21 February 2020, Thailand will classify the coronavirus as a “dangerous” communicable disease, with more than 200 cases up to date. It’s also been reported that the Thai government has been making an effort to repatriate and identify the illegal Thai workers stuck in South Korea, at an estimate of 150,000 locals.
A cruise ship called the MS Westerdam with infected passengers has been denied access to five different countries —Taiwan, the Philippines, and Thailand, among others. As of March 2nd, the total cases in Thailand are past 40. Another ship, Costa Fortuna, has been denied access to docking their 2,000-capacity ship on Malaysian territory as it is said to have been filled with Italian tourists, according to 9 March 2020 update from Asean Briefing.
Issuance of visas to arriving visitors from all countries will not be allowed until further notice. Thailand will also revoke visa exemptions from visitors flying from South Korea, Italy, and Hong Kong. Travelers who will be coming from China, Macau, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, and South Korea will need to present a medical certificate to be able to get access.
The country currently maintains a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 4am. The government has not yet implemented a nationwide lockdown, focusing instead on a curfew where citizens are not allowed to go out except if they need medical attention and if they have the necessary clearance. There will also be a three-day ban on all flights starting April 1. Only cargo and state-sanctioned flights are allowed during that period.
Stay updated with Thailand's happenings:
Local news: Bangkok Post’s Facebook page
Travel advisories: Read more
COVID-19 Information: Read more
22. Taiwan 🇹🇼
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom has highlighted the measures taken by Taiwan for travelers during entry. With effect from 7 February 2020, foreign nationals who have been in China, including Hong Kong and Macau during the 14-day period before they arrive in Taiwan will not be allowed to enter. All airline passengers entering Taiwan are also required to fill in a health declaration of their travel history for the preceding 14 days.
As of February 29th, the Taiwanese government’s Central Epidemic Command Centre raised the epidemic level to the highest and also postponed certain religious events to next month in order to lessen the risk of catching the virus in a highly-populated area.
Flights from Taiwan have been canceled and a travel ban from the Philippines persists as five new cases arise as of 5 March 2020, according to Straits Times. With more than 100 positive cases of COVID-19 in the country as of 18 March 2020, Taiwanese authorities have placed a travel ban on non-residents attempting to enter the country.
Stay updated with Taiwan's happenings:
Local news: Taiwan News
23. Austria 🇦🇹
Austria currently has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that first came from two German tourists and two Vienna locals. Xinuanet.com says that the spokesman for the Vienna City Councilor, Peter Hacker, confirmed that the local Vienna resident just returned from a trip to Milan, Italy.
As of 9 March 2020, positive cases of the COVID-19 have been confirmed in nine federal states of Alpine. The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, urges the public not to panic and to stick to basic hygiene protocol when in public spaces filled with people. Most cases are from Lower Austria area, followed by Vienna, then the least in Vorarlberg and Carinthia.
All public events and gatherings are suspended until further notice upon the announcement of the Austrian Embassy and the Austrian Cultural Forum in Washington DC, USA.
As cases in the country continue to stabilize, Austria’s government is planning to ease restrictions after a careful review of available data. If the country decided to ease restrictions, it would one of the first European countries to do so. However, ease in restrictions doesn’t mean that precautionary measures will be set aside. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has urged the public to continue observing social distancing measures and to avoid large gatherings, especially during the Easter holiday.
24. Canada 🇨🇦
The coronavirus has also reached Canada in North America, with most cases confirmed in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has reported a low risk of the virus for Canada but it continues to monitor the outbreak from Canadian travelers and tourists alike. PHAC also advised the general public, as well as travelers who have returned to the country, to monitor their health for 14 days, and to promptly report any developing symptoms such as coughing and difficulties in breathing.
The majority of the cases hail from Ontario, followed by British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta. This prompted the official formulation of the Cabinet Committee established by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last 4th March who will be the government body to take charge of the outbreak in the country.
According to the National Post, three of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 hailed from passengers that boarded the Grand Princess cruise ship which sailed to and from San Francisco from the 11th of February to the 21st. More than 200 Canadian passengers were on that ship who was then advised to isolate and quarantine themselves for 14 days after.
Most of the provinces in the country are also observing their own restrictions on travel and movement. To help struggling students in the country, the government has suggested that a form of financial assistance will be given out. The planned financial aid comes after a 5,000 CAD income restriction for Canadians availing the emergency response benefit excluded students who are dependent on summer jobs.
Stay updated with Canada's happenings:
Ministry of Health: Public Health Agency
Travel advisories: Read more
COVID-19 Information: Read more
25. Iraq 🇮🇶
COVID-19 hits the Middle East hard with Iraq being no exception with more than 70 confirmed cases as of 10 March 2020. According to Asean Briefing, schools have been closed shut all over the country, as well as other parts of the Middle East. Public gatherings have also been banned, dining establishments have been closed, while authorities have placed a travel ban on voyagers arriving from China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
With intense political issues going on in the country, the COVID-19 outbreak has become quite an international scare that the country is seemingly ill-equipt to handle. Numerous shortages of basic hygiene products, medical supplies, and drugs continue to take place in several parts of Iraq. DW also declared the need to shut down borders between Iraq and Iran.
Compounding the pandemic situation in Iraq is the refusal of its authorities to respond to reports that the number of new cases could be higher than the government’s official tally of approximately 700 people. Medical authorities from the country have estimated at least 3,000 to 9,000 unreported cases. The limited testing facilities make accurate reporting impossible and limit the government’s response to the pandemic.
Stay updated with Iraq's happenings:
Local news: DW
COVID-19 Information: Asean Brieifing
26. Vietnam 🇻🇳
On a press release last 30th January 2020, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has issued a temporary ban of visa processing and the entrance of tourists to Vietnam from areas in China affected by the coronavirus. It was announced last Friday, February 28th, that suspension of visas issued by South Korean nationals have been approved. With Vietnam having more than fifteen cases now, the health ministry told Aljazeera that the Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc — just 40 km (25 miles) from Hanoi province — was quarantined for two weeks by authorities to isolate the epidemic area for an estimate of 20 days.
As of 17 March 2020, there are more than 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vietnam. Local low-cost airline Vietjet Air has announced the suspension of their flights to and from Vietnam and South Korea according to Vietam Briefing. Those coming from Italy will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days, according to Asean Briefing. The ministry of health in Vietnam announced that there will be a need to implement compulsory quarantine procedures and testing for those coming from China, South Korea, the UK, and other Schengen countries
While the number of cases has remained relatively stable in the country during the last few days of March, Vietnam has already declared COVID-19 as a nationwide epidemic. As a result, further health and safety measures were put in place. A 15-day nationwide social distancing was also put in place last March 31 as a precaution. Citizens are advised to stay at home as much as possible and to keep a distance of at least two meters from each other.
Stay updated with Vietnam's happenings:
Tourism website: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism
27. Russia 🇷🇺
Russia is not exempted from the notorious COVID-19, with more than 100 confirmed cases of the virus. The government of the Russian Federation has taken necessary measures to prevent the outbreak. According to this website, diagnostic and protective measures are being practiced in international airports, such as temperature checks and proper quarantine sectors for those who may be possible carriers. The Russian government has also declared the banning of foreign nationals making their way into the country, along with stateless people until the 1st of May. Diplomatic representatives, airplane crewmembers among others will be exempted from the nation-wide ban, according to Aljazeera.
Since 20 February 2020, the Russian government has banned the entry of Chinese nationals, apart from those with transit purposes, followed by Iranian and South Iranian citizens. Channel News Asia reports as of 8th March 2020, the implementation of COVID-19 self-isolation rules within the country. Locals or foreigners alike who do not self-isolate upon having symptoms of the virus may be subject to prison sentences of up to five years, due to the government’s commitment to keeping a “high alert regime.”
Last March 30, the country has imposed a nationwide lockdown as more cases surface. The epicenter of the epidemic on Russia is Moscow, and the mayor the city has announced restrictions on movement to curb the rise of cases. Residents are only allowed to go out to buy essential goods, to seek medical attention, and to take out their rubbish bins.
Stay updated with Russia's happenings:
Pandemic progression: The Moscow Times
COVID-19 Information: Channel News Asia
28. Sweden 🇸🇪
As of 17 March 2020, there are more than 1,100 positive of the COVID-19 in Sweden. This has prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to advise the public to avoid non-essential travel way back the 14th of March, according to this website. The Swedish Government also extended as much as 4.1 million USD to the World Health Organization’s emergency fund.
Euroactiv reports that on March 11th, the country’s health officials have declared Sweden to be under the epidemic status. The following day, 12th March, the banning of public events with more than 500 people was implemented.
The Public Health Agency ensures the Swedish people that they are closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 in the country while conducting microbiological analyses and placing a strict risk assessment throughout the outbreak’s development. Sweden Abroad reports the need for proper dissemination of information based on science, and that disease control experts are constantly providing the public on what needs to be practiced beyond basic hygiene and sanitation.
Sweden, unlike the rest of other European countries, has not yet implemented a nationwide lockdown. This has caused speculation among outsiders as to why the country is not yet imposing any severe restrictions on travel and movement. The government’s analysis that a total lockdown or a relaxed approach to the pandemic will make no difference seems to have been the basis for delaying any restrictions. However, that may soon change as Sweden sees a sharp rise in the number of active cases and deaths.
29. Belgium 🇧🇪
Belgium has been named as part of the 15 most-affected countries by the notorious COVID-19, Pharmaceutical-Technology reports. As of 16 March 2020, there is currently a 30-day travel restriction imposed by the Belgian government for all non-essential travel, according to KPMG. There is also a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from countries infected with the virus.
Big gatherings and social events are canceled until further notice, while social distancing measures have been implemented. The Belgian National Security has communicated to the public the necessary work-from-home arrangements private companies and businesses should enforce to their employees. Class suspensions in the primary and secondary levels have been suspended, while social establishments like bars and restaurants have been closed.
Shopping has been limited to weekdays, apart from grocery stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies that will be running normal operational hours. Public transportation will be continuing normal operations but with conditional restrictions, and fewer trains will travel as a precaution.
As of 17 March 2020, there’s been more than 1,200 positive cases of the coronavirus in Belgium, prompting Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes’ government to provide special powers to increase the necessary precautions to further deal with the massive impact of COVID-19 on the country’s healthcare system and economy, according to the Guardian.
30. Denmark 🇩🇰
Denmark has developed more than 1,000 positive cases of the COVID-19, as of 19 March 2020. The Danish government announced the closure of its borders to all foreigners apart from the Danes, Danish residents and green card holders extended until mid-April, according to W Forum. Military personnel will also be scattered throughout the country to help implement the new policies and regulations in the country’s efforts to contain the outbreak.
Bloomberg reports that Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced in a press conference in Copenhagen that only essentials like food, medicines, and other basic imports people rely on daily will be allowed through the border. Frederiksen also confirmed that the Danish government made the decision with neighboring countries like Brussels. The Schengen terms that allow passport-free travel throughout Europe will be put on hold in terms of its validity in order to heighten precautions in light of COVID-19 spreading rapidly in Europe.
As the number of cases stabilizes in the country, the government is preparing for a plan to reopen the country by Easter. The government’s decision to ease restrictions on travel and movement comes after the prime minister met with party leaders to discuss the pandemic’s effect on the country’s economy. The decision to reopen was based on economic estimates that a prolonged lockdown will further damage Denmark’s economy. The booming economy of Denmark is expected to contract sharply this year due to the pandemic, so any measures to avoid a total collapse is on the cards.
31. Portugal 🇵🇹
The latest update from Portugal’s health department tallies the cases at 785 people. While the total cases are lower as compared to its neighboring European countries, experts are also bracing for an exponential rise. The president of the country, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has already declared a state of emergency on the whole country. A Forbes report has also said that the president is declaring a “war” on the virus and asking all of its citizens to contribute to the nation’s effort to fight the outbreak.
With the declaration of a state of emergency, citizens are urged to stay at home. The government has announced a multi-billion euro stimulus package to keep the country’s economy afloat. Non-essential commercial activities are now suspended, as well as public gatherings.
On March 19, the country’s prime minister laid out the specifics for the state of emergency. Essential services that provide the necessary good to citizens will remain open — that includes bakeries, supermarkets, banks, and pharmacies. With regards to international flights, the country’s flagship carrier — TAP Air Portugal — will only operate up to 25 flights per week, as reported by Simple Flying.
Over the last week of March, the country decided to extend its lockdown to 15 more days to slow down the pandemic. The country has seen its cases rise by 10,000 by April 4, closely following the footsteps of most European countries. It has also announced measures to restrict movement during the lenten week, which is usually a time where most plazas and churches are crowded.
Stay updated with Portugal's happenings
COVID-19 updates: Portugal’s COVID-19 tracker
Health department: Portugal’s health department
Local news: The Portugal News
32. New Zealand 🇳🇿
One of the latest country to implement a nationwide lockdown due to the threat of COVID-19 is New Zealand. Last March 23, the prime minister of the country, Jacinda Ardern, announced a four-week nationwide lockdown following a heightened alert level. The country is now facing a heightened alert level 3 that will then be superseded by the highest alert level 4 within 48 hours. The lockdown comes after an increase in COVID-19 cases within the country.
With the rest of the country on lockdown, all citizens in the country are expected to stay at home. Schools and businesses will close during the nationwide lockdown, but essential services will stay open. Supermarkets and pharmacies are considered essential services. These places will remain open, but the government of New Zealand is encouraging its citizens to practice social distancing.
The government is also preparing a wage subsidy for businesses that will be affected by the lockdown. This economic measure will ensure that businesses in the country can provide for its employees while the lockdown ensues. Working capital for businesses is also on the cards as some of these have raised concerns over the possibility of insolvency due to zero profits resulting from closures.
Stay updated with New Zealand's happenings:
COVID-19 updates: Unite against COVID-19
Local news: New Zealand Herald
33. South Africa 🇿🇦
South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in all of Africa, with the total amounting to 402 cases as of March 24.
As such, the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a 21-day lockdown in a televised address to the nation. The lockdown comes after a sixfold increase in COVID-19 cases all over the country. With the lockdown in effect, many citizens will be forced to stay in their own homes. They will only be allowed to go out to buy food, seek medical attention, do financial transactions, or seek medical attention.
As such, only supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, and healthcare-related facilities will be opened after the lockdown commence. Military and police forces will also be deployed to help with the lockdown. With the lockdown in place, several South African airline companies have also suspended their flights, as per IOL’s report.
Stay updated with South Africa's happenings:
COVID-19 updates: South African Tourism update
Local news: News24
Check back for latest happenings
To keep constantly afresh with the recent news and occurrences, click through the links provided in our article or do a search of your preferred destination. Stay prepared and ready to receive information on unforeseen circumstances.
If you’re going ahead with traveling, follow basic protective measures recommended by the World Health Organization like washing your hands frequently with soap, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and maintaining social distancing where possible.
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