Coronavirus and travel: How airlines and airports are dealing with deadly virus

Airports and airlines are stepping up efforts to protect staff and passengers amid heightened concern over the outbreak of a deadly virus originating from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

At least 17 people have died with close to 500 infected, including the first confirmed case in the US.

The level of alarm is rising as the coronavirus spreads. China said it will conduct nationwide screening and improve monitoring of transportation links for the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts at the end of this week and is expected to see almost 80 million people takes flights.

Elsewhere, major hubs like London Heathrow have begun to monitor people disembarking flights from the centre of the outbreak, while one airline has delayed plans for a new service to Wuhan from South Korea.

Here's a look at how airports and airlines around the world are reacting:


- Australia: Health authorities will help aviation personnel monitor travellers entering the country from Wuhan.

- Hong Kong: The local airport authority said planes touching down from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and roughly two hours away by air, will be parked at a designated area and that a contractor will disinfect the terminal where passengers arrive. Cleaning at the hub will also be stepped up as a whole.

Flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., in response to complaints from its cabin crew union about risk of "catastrophic" infection, on Wednesday said staff could wear protective face masks on flights to China if they wanted. The airline is also waiving rebooking, rerouting and refund charges for all tickets issued before Jan. 21 for travel to or from Wuhan between Jan. 21 and Feb. 15.

- South Korea: Korean Air Lines Co. is providing hazardous-materials suits for crew on planes and plans to disinfect aircraft flying to Wuhan daily, as opposed to monthly, while Tway Air delayed plans to launch a new route from Incheon to Wuhan, Yonhap News reported, citing a company official. The country confirmed its first infection on Monday.


- North Korea: The country temporarily closed its borders to foreign tourists as a precaution against the virus, according to travel agent Young Pioneer Tours.

- Singapore: Changi Airport is increasing surveillance on all passengers from China, rather than just those arriving from Wuhan. Low-cost carrier Scoot said it's made arrangements to distribute a health advisory to passengers arriving from the city. Disinfectants, hand sanitisers and surgical masks are being supplied on all China flights. Scoot said it has an aircraft disinfection protocol in place for flights where suspected cases have been reported.

- Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country will step up quarantine and testing, while Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that health questionnaires would be given to passengers arriving from Wuhan by plane and that people should inform authorities if they're not feeling well on arrival.

- India: Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has increased surveillance measures. Delhi Airport staff are checking inbound passengers from affected areas, according to a statement.

- Indonesia: Airports and airlines have been asked to take precautionary measures such as screening international passengers with thermal scanners. Airlines must provide health documents and manifests after landing, Director General of Civil Aviation Polana Pramesti said in a statement.

- Vietnam: Equipment to measure body temperature is in place to screen passengers at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, according to a statement on the government website, which said monitoring will be increased during the Lunar New Year holidays as there will be a greater number of flights.


- UK: Teams including a doctor and medical inspector will deploy to London's Heathrow airport to greet passengers from Wuhan to monitor for signs of the virus and provide information to passengers about symptoms, the Department for Health said. The checks concern three flights a week operated by China Southern Airlines Co. The risk to Britons was raised to "low" from "very low"

- Italy: The Health Ministry said procedures are in force at Rome Fiumicino airport, which has direct flights to Wuhan, to check arrivals from the Chinese city. Surveillance of passengers is being strengthened and people will be subject to body temperature checks at the airport, it said.


- Nigeria: The country's centre for disease control advised travellers coming from Wuhan to report to a medical facility if they feel ill and said that surveillance has been intensified at all points of entry.

- South Africa: The National Institute for Communicable Diseases recommended testing anyone who has recently visited Wuhan and is displaying symptoms such as fever and a cough.


US: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented screening for arrivals at airports in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles on Jan. 17, and is expanding that to Atlanta and Chicago. CDC said it's closely monitoring the outbreak and there are ongoing investigations into the "rapidly evolving situation." United Airlines is most exposed to the China market, according to a report from Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi.