CDC Issues Coronavirus Advisory Against Travel to South Korea

South Koreans tourists gather after returning from Israel at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea. // Photo by AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon via Newscred

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned travelers to avoid nonessential travel to South Korea due to the coronavirus outbreak, prompting major U.S. airlines to issue travel waivers. 

“A novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in South Korea. Illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe,” the CDC said in a written statement. “Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Sore throat also has been reported in some patients. Some patients also have reported diarrhea without other symptoms. This new coronavirus has caused severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness.”

South Korea has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus outside of China, with 763 confirmed cases and seven deaths, according to the latest situation report by the World Health Organization (WHO). By comparison, there are 144 confirmed cases in Japan, as well as 124 confirmed cases in Italy, where officials have canceled Carnival events in Venice and many other public events in Milan and the wider Lombardy region. 

Following the release of the CDC’s advisory, major U.S. airlines issued travel waivers for customers booked to fly through airports in South Korea. 

American Airlines is offering those scheduled to travel through April 24 the chance to change their origin or destination city through June 30 to Tokyo, Japan (either the Haneda or Narita airports). Travelers must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference. Guests can also delay their trip up to 331 days after their original ticket date or make a different change to their origin or destination city, so long as travel is completed within one year of the original ticket date. A difference in fare may apply. 

United Airlines will waive the change fee and any difference in fare for customers scheduled to travel through June 30 for new flights booked before that date so long as travel is in the originally ticketed cabin and between the original city pair. For wholly rescheduled travel departing after June 30, 2020, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

Delta customers scheduled to travel through April 30 can rebook through May 31, with the new ticket to be reissued on or before that date. 

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