Coronavirus: What to do if your travel plans have been affected

New figures suggest up to 35,000 passengers could be affected by the cancellation of flights to mainland China by UK airlines due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Travel to and from mainland China has been disrupted in a bid to stop the spread of the viral pneumonia which broke out in Wuhan, Hebei.

At least 1,000 people in China have died from the virus, with eight cases so far confirmed in the UK.

  • What to do if you have flights booked to China

Temporary suspensions are in place onBritish Airways flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai. The airline has now suspended flights until March 31.

Passengers are able to rebook on another flight operated by the airline to the same destination at a later date.

Those with a British Airways booking are advised to contact the company directly, or if the booking has been made through a travel agent, to contact the third party and rebook.

Customers with flights booked within the temporary suspension can also request a refund.

A pilot wearing a protective suit parks a cargo plane at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Credit: AP

Virgin Atlantic has also said it will not operate its Heathrow-Shanghai route until March 28.

The latest developments come as health authorities confirm one of the hundreds of people recently evacuated from China to US military bases has the virus, with the person joining 13 confirmed cases across the country.

  • What to do if you have plans to travel to or from China

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all but "essential travel" to mainland China, with advice against "all travel" to the Hubei Province where the outbreak started.

While British Airways has suspended flights completely, other foreign commercial airlines are still operating.

Having initially continued its flights between Heathrow and Shanghai, Virgin Atlantic announced it too has suspended flights.

The airline is offering to rebook, re-route, or refund those who have a booking on the affected routes.

Several other airlines, including United Airlines and Finnair, have suspended some flights.

The Travel Association ABTA says those with plans to travel to China "should speak to their travel provider who should make alternative arrangements."

It added: "If no suitable alternatives are available, customers should be offered a full refund."

Travellers arrive to Heathrow on the final BA flights out of China. Credit: PA

The Foreign Office issued an update on 4 February advising Britons in China to "leave if they can".

UK holidaymakers in China may be able to claim the cost of returning home early due to the coronavirus outbreak through their travel insurance, a trade association said.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is advising travellers to keep up to date with Government advice.

Commenting on the airlines still operating flights in and out of China from the UK, travel expert Simon Calder said "I wouldn't be surprised if they changed their minds in a day or two".

Mr Calder said travellers will be covered by their travel insurance if they follow the advice of the Foreign Office in not flying to China, but said "anybody who does go will invalidate their insurance".

Global travel and data analytics firm Cirium calculated that the decision of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to suspend flights has affected the travel plans of as many as 35,000 passengers.

  • What to do if you have recently returned from China

Britons returning through the consulate from coronavirus-hit Wuhan will be put in quarantine for 14 days.

Returning travellers are being asked to also call NHS 111 to inform them of any recent visit to the affected area in China.

Medical Director at Public Health England, Yvonne Doyle said isolation "is in step with the best scientific and expert advice" on how to stop the spread of coronavirus.

She added: "This means taking simple, common sense steps, such as staying at home and avoiding close contact with other people as much as possible."

Passengers wait in line for a flight from the Czech Republic to Shanghai on Monday. Credit: AP
  • What to do if you develop symptoms

Guidance from Public Health England advises those who have visited the affected area to seek medical attention either in China or on return to the UK should symptoms develop within 14 days.

This includes developing a fever, difficulty breathing or a cough.

If symptoms develop back in the UK, the advice is to stay indoors and call your GP or NHS 111.