Travel Alert - Coronavirus & France January 2020



As of 28 January 2020, more than 4,500 cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported across at least 30 provinces in China and at least 106 people have died from the virus thus far.


Additional countries announcing confirmed cases of coronavirus include Cambodia, Germany and Sri Lanka.


Effective 30 January, China will no longer grant personal travel permits for Hong Kong; the permits account for almost 50% of mainland visitors to the city. Non-Hong Kong residents will be charged for service received at Hong Kong hospitals – a change meant to discourage mainland citizens with the virus from travelling to Hong Kong. Flight, rail and ferry services between mainland China and Hong Kong are being reduced and/or suspended while border checkpoints at West Kowloon, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok, China-Hong Kong City, Lok Mau Chau and Lo Wu will be closed.


There are currently no travel and trade restrictions in place in South Africa linked to the coronavirus as, to date, there have been no reported cases in the country, according to a statement from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Routine temperature screening is in place at all South African international ports of entry. OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airports are the only ports of entry with direct flights from Asia. An emergency operations centre is on high alert mode and can be activated should the need arise.


The US is urging all Americans to avoid travelling to China unless their trip is essential. It has updated its travel warning for China to level 3, which urges US citizens to 'avoid nonessential travel' to the country. Meanwhile, the travel warning for Hubei province has been raised to level 4 category indicating 'limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens' in the province.


The UK's Foreign Office is still advising against travel to Hubei province and warns against all but essential travel to the country.


United Airlines has announced that it will suspend some flights to China next month because of a "significant decline in demand" to the country following the outbreak of coronavirus. Of all the US airlines, United provides the most service to China.


British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China. No direct flights to China are available on the airline’s website in January and February.


The World Health Organisation’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or washing thoroughly with soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid handshaking using a hand-to-hand grip – use alternate gestures such as elbow touching;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.


Demonstrations are scheduled throughout France on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 as part of an ongoing dispute over the government’s plans to reform the country’s pension system. Union leaders have called for thousands of workers to join the demonstrations, although they expect turnout to be lower than for previous such events.

In Paris, disruptions to the metro and the rapid transit system, the Réseau Express Régional (RER), are expected throughout the day. Additionally, air traffic controllers plan to observe a strike across the country from 19:00 local time on 28 January to 06:30 local time on 30 January.

While no flight cancellations have been announced and no significant disruptions are expected, travellers should nonetheless contact their respective airlines to check the status of their flights.