Members of the public have been warned no to embark on any non-essential travel “indefinitely”.
Previously the travel advice had been in place until April 16, but now the guidance has been extended with no end date listed.
A video shared by the FCO advised : ”We now advise against all non-essential global travel – indefinitely. The situation is changing rapidly. Travellers could face severe disruption and be unable to return to the UK.”
Consumer group Which? have warned that the new measures will cause “a huge amount of confusion” among British travellers.
What should I do if my travel plans are affected?
The government initially advised against all but essential travel for 30 days as it attempted to stem the flow of Covid-19.
Put in place on March 17 the advisory was due to expire on April 16, with several travel companies selling flights and holiday packages beyond the initial deadline.
The FCO warning is typically enough to trigger travel insurance covering cancellation, though this depends on the specific details of each individual’s policy.
If the company you booked your trip with cancels your trip you are entitled to a full refund.
If your trip is booked further in the future you may have to wait and see if the travel advisory is still in place before approaching your insurance provider.
Can I still travel?
The FCO advisory warns that travellers should only travel if it is absolutely necessary.
Those who do embark on travel abroad should be fully aware of the risks associated with travelling during a global pandemic and research whether their entry into the destination country will be impacted.
Advice on international travel from the government reads: “If your travel is essential, make sure you have appropriate insurance for overseas travel, and purchase it as soon as you book your travel. You should check the detail of your travel insurance to see what it covers, and contact your insurance provider if you have any questions.
“You may need to consider a specialist policy. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re covered.”
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.
All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.
Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.
Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.
The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.
For more information on government advice, please check their website. https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Should I avoid public places?
You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
When to call NHS 111
Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS
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