‘Stop flights’: People worldwide are cancelling trips to Singapore, after news that the coronavirus has spread to locals

Following news that Singapore had a local transmission cluster of the Wuhan virus, spooked netizens have taken to social media to demand refunds for their trips to the city-state.
Singapore Press Holdings

This story was updated on Monday (Feb 17).

  • Since the coronavirus hit, hundreds of anxious travellers have been writing to airlines, hotels and travel companies to cancel and refund trips booked to Singapore.

  • The tiny nation-state has the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases outside of China.

  • Taiwan, Korea, Qatar, Israel and Kuwait have advised their citizens against travel to the Republic.

  • Companies in the travel industry are now offering refunds and cancellations on a case-by-case basis.

Amid global fears about the ongoing coronavirus, it looks like China isn’t the only place the world is starting to avoid – Singapore might be next on the list.

The Republic is currently the country with the second-highest number of confirmed virus cases outside of China – excluding Japan, which is currently dealing with an infected cruise ship quarantined off Yokohama.

Read also: One map shows where the coronavirus has spread in Singapore, the worst-hit country outside of China

While several of Singapore’s confirmed cases are Chinese nationals who travelled to Wuhan, local transmission began after a tour guide and two people working at a shop came into contact with a Chinese tour group and subsequently contracted the virus.

Singapore’s health ministry said on Feb 6 that the nation should “be prepared for the possibility of new infection clusters involving locals within the community, not linked with recent travel to China or contact with recent PRC travellers.”

As of 6 February 2020, 2pm, we have confirmed two additional cases of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in Singapore. Of…

Posted by Ministry of Health, Singapore on Thursday, 6 February 2020

News of local transmission spooked travellers around the globe who had plans to visit Singapore this month.

Many took to social media to demand airlines, hotels and insurance agencies offer automatic refunds for trips they had cancelled in light of the news.

Twitter user Manu Anand wrote on Thursday (Feb 6) to carrier Air India: “Was travelling to Singapore on 17th, but want to cancel tickets due to increase in community spread cases.”

Another user named Novia Kurniawati asked Jetstar to cancel her flight because of the way the virus had spread in Singapore, while another named Ester Martin asked AirAsia if she could “cancel my flight to Singapore due to the number of coronavirus cases”.

A fourth user Kau Chi’en said: “SingaporeAir, I need to cancel my NYC – Singapore flight. It’s too dangerous for me to take a flight with my kid during the coronavirus outbreak. I’ve been on the phone for hours and your different offices keep telling me to call a different office.”

A netizen with the handle @Leve_raged added: “Stop flights. Cancel trips.”

Other companies that netizens begged for refunds from included airlines like Scoot, Malindo Air, IndiGo, Sri Lankan Airlines, British Airways and Cebu Pacific, hotels including Marina Bay Sands and Hotel Boss, and travel sites Expedia and Make My Trip.

Some of those appealing for travel refunds were fans who bought tickets to Singapore to attend concerts by Korean star Taeyeon and boybands GOT7, NCT Dream, and WINNER, all of which were postponed or cancelled between Jan 30 and Feb 3.

One netizen who failed to secure a refund even offered up her accommodation for free, as she had decided to cancel her entire trip.

At least one airline – India’s GoAir – had since offered refunds on all flights to Singapore, while cruise company Royal Carribean promised credits to guests who cancelled their trips on a Quantum of the Seas cruise from Singapore scheduled to depart this month.

Business Insider understands that as of Monday (Feb 17), a large number of airlines and hotels were offering cancellations on a case-by-case basis, mostly granted to travellers from China and Hong Kong.

Five territories – South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Kuwait and Qatar have since advised citizens to avoid travel to Singapore, while Britain included the city-state in a list of countries from which returning travellers who developed symptoms should self-isolate, and Indonesia advised its citizens to take precaution when visiting.

A video clip of Singapore’s Changi Airport taken on Feb 10 also showed how empty the usually-bustling transit area had become.

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