Starting Sunday Foreigners Who Visited China Within 14 Days Banned From Entering U.S.

Any foreign nationals that have visited China within 14 days are now banned from entering the United States. That means a 14 day waiting period in a country other than China prior to U.S. travel. This ban will go into effect at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

Immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in China, though, will be allowed to enter and monitored under quarantine.

It seems to effectively put a knife into any flights on Chinese airlines to the United States, since they’ll only be able to bring U.S. citizens home. Delta, United and American have already announced flight cancellations. However while American’s suspension of service is immediate Delta’s and United’s begins February 6. Expect flights to be cancelled prior to that.

US citizens who have been in Hubei Province, China within the last 14 days are subject to screening and 14 days of monitoring upon their return. Can quarantine orders restrict travel by Americans? People evacuated from Wuhan were held in quarantine against their will, without opportunity for judicial review.

This policy is at odds with guidance from the World Health Organization which is recommending against travel restrictions.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why ban?

    Just require that they check into certain hotels near JFK, LAX, SFO, etc. for 14 days.

    Will this help Asiana, Korean Air, and Cathay Pacific?

  2. WHO has long sold out to China. It tried to not announce a global emergency for so long, and even claimed the risk outside China was low because there was no human to human cases outside China … because China, the number 3 member which pays the most fund, right after US and Japan – colludes with WHO to cover up the severity of the crisis.

  3. Hong Kong flights aren’t off the possibility of being suspended temporarily too by some airlines. I’m expecting it if the China flight suspensions continue for more than 6-8 weeks.

  4. miafll,

    WHO is WHO regardless of China. And WHO seems to be sensible in making restrictions conditional and perhaps allowing for individual circumstances to be considered rather than to unleash further panic and push people to do more desperate things.

    When legitimate routes to movement by the desperate are blocked, the desperate who are capable get creative and go underground to move and do move anyway. A shift to less well-monitored means of travel makes WHO’s job harder.

  5. What is worrisome is that the Chinese government is quarantining whole cities in China. It sounds like this virus could be serious. Let’s hope it does not turn out to be a big deal.

    I cannot be bothered to argue with people who are trying to make political comments about something as serious as a potential pandemic. There are certain moral boundaries.

  6. According to some, the reported fatality rate tied to this Wuhan coronavirus is less than one third of the peak fatality rate that SARS had: sub-3% now vs what was 9-10% for that tied to SARS.

  7. I think SARS was more contained because people from China did not travel as much.

    I have seen several of these pandemic panics, including Bird Flu, Swine Flu, SARS, and Ebola. Most of these did not turn into a really bad pandemics. Ebola is an exception. It was brutal in Africa, but never traveled to the United States.

    Hopefully, the coronavirus is not so serious. Diseases kill people all the time and they are not a pandemic. For example, the flu kills tens of thousands of deaths every year.

  8. A disease being more contagious from an exposed person is not the same thing as a disease having a higher fatality rate for an exposed person. This Wuhan virus seems far more contagious than SARS but it also seems to be less likely to kill an individual than SARS.

  9. @G U Wonder
    Fewer deaths than SARS as a % of cases doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
    The rate of overseas travel by Chinese nations is 7 times what it was in 2003 ( SARS).
    The Chinese medical system is better prepared to treat than it was in 2003 ( and it seems, for once, they haven’t engaged in a cover-up, as they did in 2003.
    But if this virus breaks out in developing countries, there will be great difficulty controlling the spread/treating the sick, and running the risk that it becomes established and a ‘permanent’ pool of circulating infection.
    Australia just closed the doors to all Chinese nationals ( other than those with permanent residency), not just those from Hubei….as well as third country nationals who’ve been in China ( even in transit). I doubt this was done on a whim, given the huge cost of such a move, economically and politically.

  10. Paola,

    Fear, as it grows, has a tendency to make people and governments more excitable and more likely to behave in ways that aren’t necessarily rooted in no-drama sagacity and objective calculations of actual risk to those that are supposedly being protected.

    To want to be seen as strong and as doing something is the order of the day for governments in a world where bad news hooks a bad-news-addicted public audience hooked more than ever before.

  11. Effectively banning Chinese from entering the USA probably isn’t medically necessary, but it certainly makes it even less likely that the Wuhan virus will spread to America. You’re a politician: what is the downside to a ban? Answer: nothing. What is the downside to allowing those flights? Severe, if the virus spreads to America and “you didn’t do enough to stop it.”

    And that’s why there’s a ban.

  12. I agree with all; but add: FB and Twitter are blocking news claiming ‘fake’ or ‘conspiracies’. Where true I get that; but they also blocked legit reports such as the (real) Indian researchers providing (without drawing conclusions) the genomic design/pattern of the virus. It shows strands of HIV, suggesting it was possibly engineered. That would explain (if collaborated) why Dr. Fauci of the HIH quietly referred to antiviral drugs having efficacy against the Wuhan coronavirus. I read that 3 of the current HIV drugs DO stop the virus. Besides proving the money spent on HIV research is paying-off big-time with the greater knowledge about virology that really didn’t exist 30 years ago; this info is of use to doctors and anyone; because the interesting idea would be giving a ‘cocktail’ of HIV drugs to anyone with the first sign of symptoms, almost like something called PREP is utilized as a prophylactic to protect those sexually active. If this is proven (and not blocked by naive snowflakes at Facebook or Twitter); it’s besides the point of how the virus was created; but rather whether there is already an effective treatment in the form of HIV medications on the shelf of every pharmacy. If so that’s a great relief and clearly would be welcomed in China too; to save thousands of lives. I’m writing about this in my (normally stock market) report this weekend; copies available on request.

  13. “This policy is at odds with guidance from the World Health Organization which is recommending against travel restrictions.” I would just caution people on relying too much on the WHO. China is their second biggest financial supporter and they have deferred to China on the past when it comes to blocking Taiwan from taking part in meetings etc. In addition, the WHO said one assessment and then ended up admitting that it was much more severe and having to redo their assessment. Feels like they were trying to downplay the situation. Sources at the WHO admitted that part of their position on travel bans took into account economic consequences, so their opinion isn’t purely medical. Given that the Chinese government has withheld some of the medical data from other countries it raises a lot of questions. The Chinese government has a history of lying in situations like this, so I wouldn’t be quick to rely on their word or that of the WHO completely. Trust has to be earned and the Chinese government hasn’t earned it yet. When this is all over we will see if they were honest or not, but something feels off about all of this already. Time will tell.

  14. ” This Wuhan virus seems far more contagious than SARS but it also seems to be less likely to kill an individual than SARS.” This is true but the more it spreads the higher the death count, so even though SARS is more deadly in the end more people could end up dying from this virus just because it spreads much faster.

  15. @ Bill
    The NYT piece , today ( Chris Buckley and Steven Myers) says it all: in fact China did try to cover up ( and harass those who sought to sound the alarm). It’s alarming.

  16. Im going to travel in the next 6 weeks weeks and my stopover is in Beijing…
    I wonder if they will be cancelling those flights? I dont want to buy my other tickets to japan if i end up with cancelled ticket..

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