As of Friday morning, the coronavirus outbreak in China has resulted in at least 26 deaths and 800 others sickened by the illness, according to local health officials. Currently, there is one confirmed case in the U.S., with twelve others currently being tested for the virus, CBS News reports.
In response to the outbreak, Chinese authorities have restricted flights and trains to and from Wuhan in central China, where the first few people affected had either shopped or worked at a local market. In the U.S, five airports are now screening passengers flying from Wuhan: San Francisco International, Los Angeles International, John F. Kennedy International, Chicago O’Hare International, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. (London’s Heathrow Airport has created a separate arrival area to screen passengers arriving from Wuhan, too.)
Wondering how coronavirus might affect your immediate travel plans? Well, it depends on the airline. Delta is offering passengers the ability to change their flights or receive a credit toward a future flight if they’re traveling to Beijing or Shanghai between January 24-31. American Airlines, too, is offering free changes if you’re traveling to Beijing or Shanghai between January 24 and February 7. (You can delay your trip for up to one year from your original departure date.) United is also offering change fee waivers for those travelers headed to Beijing, Shanghai or Chengdu through March, as well as full refunds.
Travel insurance, generally speaking, won’t cover changes or cancelations in response to fears of the virus. (Travel health insurance, however, will cover any medical expenses in the event you catch the virus, but let’s assume that won’t happen.) Two international airlines, Cathay Pacific and China Airlines, are canceling flights and offering refunds to those passengers affected, in case you’re flying on either.
If you’re wondering how this might impact U.S. airports—mainly, whether this means they’ll be even more congested than usual—it doesn’t seem like it’s causing trouble for most passengers. On Thursday, CDC officials said they’ve screened just 1,200 travelers across the mentioned airports, which is a pretty small number in the greater context of passengers at these major hubs. Also, with a majority of flights from Wuhan canceled, that number likely won’t grow immensely over the coming days.
And if you’re worried about catching the virus itself, here’s why it’s time to get a flu shot.
This post was updated on 1/27/20 to reflect Delta and American’s recent travel waivers.