Palau to ban flights from China

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — As a precautionary measure, the Republic of Palau is suspending flights from Hong Kong, Macau and China to the island nation from Feb. 1 to Feb. 29, 2020, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. announced Tuesday.

Isabel Lu and Jeffrey Xiong, pictured with their children Margaret, 4, and Felix, 6, came to Guam from Shanghai for a weeklong vacation. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, they are now wary of returning home.  Photo by Lannie Walker/Guam Daily Post

Palau doesn’t have a single case of the new coronavirus, he said.

Palau’s national government has also restricted official government travel to Hong Kong and Macau and within the same time frame.

On Guam, residents are taking precautions by buying face masks. Many drug stores and retail outlets have run out of stock.

A family visiting Guam from China has decided to stay on the island for a while.

Isabel Lu and Jeffrey Xiong said their Guam visit is lasting longer than they expected.

The couple and their two young children arrived on the island on Jan. 19 for a Chinese New Year vacation. They planned to stay for just one week but are afraid to return to China during the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of confirmed cases have been reported, as have more than one hundred deaths.

“We were supposed to go back yesterday, but, because of the virus, we are staying for longer,” Xiong told The Guam Daily Post on Tuesday.

The couple said they don’t personally know anyone who has contracted the virus in their home country.

“Currently not,” said Lu.

The family wasn’t able to extend its hotel reservations but Lu and Xiong said they made friends with a local person who was able to help them find an apartment to rent in the short term.

“We plan to stay for at least another week. We want to stay and see what the situation is,” Lu said.

She said they are closely monitoring the situation back home.

“We are very nervous. Every morning we check our interface app, like the WhatsApp — in China we call it WeChat,” she said.

Millions have been evacuated from Wuhan, which, with about 11 million inhabitants, is the most populous city in central China.

“In Shanghai, the cases of infection have come from Wuhan, so we want to stay here to watch if the local people have been infected by the virus,” Xiong said.

Lu said they might have to remain quarantined indoors if they were to return home and said they may extend their trip for even longer, depending on the spread of the virus.

“We will see,” said Lu.

The pneumonia-like new coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and headache. Guam and Saipan currently have no confirmed cases of the virus.

China’s national health commission reported that 2,744 people across 30 provinces had been infected as of Sunday. Eighty deaths have been reported, including in major metropolitan areas such as Shanghai, The Washington Post reported.

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