January 27, 2020 The deadly novel (new) coronavirus, originating in China, has spread to countries across the globe. Travelers need to be aware of travel advisories and, the very real possibility of not being allowed to leave their host countries if suspected of infection or, the overall restriction of travel in and out of the impacted areas.
As of the date of this article, the following countries have reported confirmed cases of this new virus:
Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, China, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and Vietnam
And, countries with suspected cases:
Canada, Czech Republic, FiJi, India, Austria, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Switzerland.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level Four travel advisory for China: DO NOT TRAVEL. France has been issued a Level Two designation: EXERCISE INCREASED PRECAUTIONS. Check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination. If you are traveling abroad, in that conditions can change very rapidly in a country at any time, opt to receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts from the State Department.
Of particular concern is the ability of travelers to leave China if the situation there worsens. From the State Department:
Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese citizens:
The Chinese government has asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using “exit bans,” sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. The Chinese government uses exit bans coercively:
- to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
- to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
- to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.
The Chinese government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the Chinese government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services. Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to China:
Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory.
Review the Crime and Safety Reports for China.
Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
The Guardian reports that 100,000 people worldwide may already be infected with the coronavirus. Avoid paranoia but do stay informed.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As aways, be safe.