UCC warns against travel to China as coronavirus death toll rises 

UCC warns against travel to China as coronavirus death toll rises 
A family wearing face masks walk along a normally busy pedestrian shopping street in Beijing. Fears of a virus outbreak have kept many indoors and at home in China's capital.

University College Cork (UCC) has emailed staff and students to request they refrain from travelling to China, as the World Health Organisation (Who) says the “whole world needs to be on alert” over the coronavirus outbreak.

It comes as the death toll in China passed 130 and cases of human-to-human transmission were confirmed in at least three other countries. The Who emergency committee, which said last week it was “too early” to pronounce a global health emergency, will meet for a second time tomorrow.

In a statement to The Echo, a UCC spokesperson said the college was monitoring the recommendations from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on a daily basis and was acting on these recommendations as they emerge.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs has upgraded their travel advisory for China from “high degree of caution” to “avoid non-essential travel”,’ a spokeseron said. “As a result, UCC have advised staff members and students due to travel to China to postpone their trip. UCC will continue to update its students and staff to ensure they are supported during this period of concern.”

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has not issued any guidelines in relation to the deadly virus, although a spokesperson said communication on the issue would be circulated in the coming days.

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK. PA Photo. 
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK. PA Photo. 

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has also recommended that customers avoid travelling to the Hubei province of China entirely, and reconsider travelling to the rest of China unless it is absolutely essential amid the outbreak of coronavirus in a number of Chinese cities.

The ITAA is also advising affected holidaymakers in the country to follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Chinese local authorities, and accommodation providers. The ITAA recommends that Irish travellers in affected areas to stay indoors where possible and avoid large gatherings.

“Airports are still operating but there are increased security measures in place,” President of the ITAA John Spollen said. “As the situation remains fluid, containment measures could be increased at any time.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising travellers already in the country to take extra care, wash their hands regularly with alcohol-based soap, wear single-use masks and observe food safety as recommended by the Who.

The ITAA recommends that intending travellers maintain contact with their travel adviser and tour operator for travel updates.

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