The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in response to the virus, it has deployed 497 of its staff members (including clinicians, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modellers, and co-ordination staff members) to 39 locations in the US and internationally, to assist with case identification and contact tracing, as well as efforts to evaluate virulence, risk for transmission and other characteristics of the virus.
It has developed specific guidance for healthcare settings (patient management, infection control and prevention, environmental cleaning, worker safety, and international travel), public health, laboratories, schools and businesses.
In terms of information for travellers, the CDC has issued a Level 3 travel notice (avoid all non-essential travel) for China, which has been in effect since 27 January (see the full list of recommendations in the boxout below) In addition, CDC has posted information for travellers regarding apparent community transmission in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and recommendations for persons to reconsider cruise ship voyages in Asia.
Airport screening has been in effect since 23 February – a total of 46,016 air travellers had been screened at the 11 US airports to which all flights from China are being directed. Of those, 11 travellers were referred to a hospital and tested for infection; one tested positive and was isolated and managed medically. Seventeen travellers were quarantined for 14 days because of travel from Hubei, China.
Repatriation is another of the many measures that the CDC has taken to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The organisation detailed that in the period 29 January to 6 February, the US Government repatriated 808 US citizens, residents and their families from the Hubei Province of China on five chartered flights. During quarantining, three individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and have since received isolated medical care.
In the report, which you can read in full here, the CDC asserts that Covid-19 is a serious health threat, and that the National Institutes of Health and its collaborators are working on developing candidate vaccines and therapeutics for the virus.
In the UK, the ABI has released an informative resource on the travel insurance implications following the outbreak of the virus.
First and foremost, ABI advises consumers to check and follow government advice on the GOV.UK website, as anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance. On its website, ABI covers cancellation costs, what can be considered as ‘essential travel’ and repatriation costs for those being advised to return home. It also clearly states that ATOL compensation arrangements would not operate in these circumstances, as these relate specifically to the providers of package holidays, and don’t apply to a ‘major medical outbreak’ like coronavirus.
If they’re not already inundated, claims departments should be expecting a mass of enquiries related to travel and the coronavirus. ITIJ urges insurers to provide as much information to customers as is possible on websites – dedicated pages with clear directions and FAQs will likely save a lot of time and resources, as well as providing easily accessible advice to insureds.