It can be really difficult to separate fact from rumor when it comes to China travel and H1N1. Based on our experience, talks with officials, and research, here’s what we know about traveling to China and the H1N1 flu.
Please keep in mind that all statements below are to the best of our knowledge and subject to change.
Frequently Asked Questions
• What is H1N1?
This is a new influenza A(H1N1) virus that has never before circulated among humans. This virus is not related to previous or current human seasonal influenza viruses. The virus is spread from person-to-person. It is transmitted as easily as the normal seasonal flu and can be passed to other people by exposure to infected droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing that can be inhaled, or that can contaminate hands or surfaces.
• Why is H1N1 a concern?
H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, is a concern for a few reasons. First, it is a new strain of influenza that has never before been seen in humans on this scale. Thus, doctors and researchers are unsure how it will affect the global population. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (swine) flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe.
• How do I know if I have H1N1?
While only a medical test can definitively confirm H1N1, there are major symptoms to be aware of. A fever of 38º C (100º F) or higher and a combination of symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle aches and vomiting or diarrhea could be an indication that you have H1N1. WildChina suggests that you visit your doctor as soon as these symptoms appear, and postpone travel to China should you suspect that you are infected with H1N1.
• How will H1N1 affect my travel to China?
In all likelihood H1N1 will not alter or delay your travel plans to China. However, a small percentage of travelers have experienced delays or have been forced to cancel their China travel plans.
• What happens when my plane lands in China?
Upon arrival in China, you will be given a health declaration form to fill out. This document will ask you if you are experiencing any symptoms of H1N1 and if you have been in contact with anyone who has had H1N1. You will also fill out your contact information, including the name of your hotel. You will hand this form to an agent prior to going through customs.
Passengers will also walk through a temperature scanner. Passengers with an elevated temperature will be pulled aside for further questioning and possible H1N1 testing.
• What happens if I test positive for H1N1?
Passengers who test positive for H1N1 are separated from their group and quarantined in a special quarantine hotel. Testing is done in a nearby hospital, and involves a swab from the nose or mouth.
Travelers with H1N1 are quarantined in order to prevent the spread of the influenza.
When H1N1 was first detected in China in June all suspected cases were quarantined. This policy has since been relaxed. Today, only those with confirmed cases from a hospital test are quarantined. Those who are suspected of having H1N1 but do not have a confirmed case are subject to self-quarantine, and will be asked to stay at home or in their hotel. Health officials will visit at random intervals to administer temperature checks.
• What is it like to be quarantined?
Travelers with confirmed cases of H1N1 are quarantined in 4 star hotels. These are normally located approximately one hour outside of the city. Travelers will have their own rooms, with TV, internet access, and phone access. Food is usually served via buffet, which guests then take back to their rooms to eat. Medical staff is on-hand, and temperature checks are issued twice daily. Quarantine lasts until guests no longer test positive for H1N1.
Travelers with suspected cases of H1N1 will be quarantined at home or in their hotel. Health officials will visit randomly to issue temperature checks. Should a student or minor be quarantined, WildChina suggests that an adult remain with them for the duration of their quarantine. This self-quarantine lasts for 7 days.
• Who pays for the quarantine?
The Chinese government absorbs all costs of quarantining travelers with confirmed cases of H1N1. Travelers with suspected cases of H1N1 are responsible for their own lodging.
• Should I travel if I am sick?
WildChina strongly advises sick passengers to postpone travel to China.
Please contact your doctor for further information.
Did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments below.