Panic has hit South Africans following the news of a coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. ASATA tells travellers to stay calm. Picture: Zhang Bowen.
Panic has hit South Africans following the news of a coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. ASATA tells travellers to stay calm. Picture: Zhang Bowen.

Coronavirus in SA: Stay calm, says ASATA

By Staff reporter Time of article published Mar 6, 2020

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The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has called on its members and the general public to remain calm following the announcement of the first case of Coronavirus in South Africa. 

Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA, said travellers should share only information that has been confirmed by an official source like the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), World Health Organization (WHO) or ASATA.

He said there were many fake news stories doing the rounds. 

“We have seen news circulating on social media and on WhatsApp about travel suppliers placing a blanket cancellation on their operations which isn’t true. Any travellers who are concerned that their travel plans will be impacted should contact their ASATA-registered travel agent for informed travel advice,” he said. 

De Vries said ASATA and the travel industry’s role is to provide a calming, coordinated and proactive response to the Coronavirus impact on travel. 

“Our members are working closely with travel suppliers to ascertain what proactive measures, if any, have been put in place to re-accommodate and assist travellers, where this is deemed necessary,” he said. 

De Vries said it was safe to travel to most destinations as long as you followed the stringent hygiene guidelines as outlined by the World Health Organization. 

“Destinations and travel suppliers are proactively putting in place travel restrictions when these are necessary. The WHO also confirms there is no need to put travel restrictions in place, except for the epicenter of the outbreak, China’s Wuhan province.

“We believe that travellers should continue with their travel plans unless travel to their destination has been advised against by an official source such as the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization and individual governments of affected destinations.

“These entities, along with global travel suppliers, have the safety of travellers top of mind. They would simply never allow travel to continue if there were any concern whatsoever over the health and wellbeing of travellers. 

"Any disinclination to travel on the part of the traveller beyond this advice is the decision of that traveller and may be subject to cancellation and penalties,” he said. 

For those who are travelling, be sure to take travel insurance. 

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