Airlines providing waivers for trips to South Korea

Local News

South Korea continues to see an explosion in Coronavirus cases. Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Military says, a soldier based in South Korea tested positive for the virus, the first U.S. service member to be infected.

The outbreak has some thinking twice about traveling. Government officials, businesses, and residents are keeping a close eye on what will happen next as several airlines are providing waivers for trips to South Korea.

“We’ve canceled two tours today (Tuesday) that are going to South Korea,” said John Defreitas of Panda Travel.

Defreitas says they’ve been seeing the effects of COVID-19 for weeks and noticed business is slowing.

“People are booking but it’s more limited. We are not seeing the normal activity that we would for Fall programs or next year’s programs. They are coming in more slowly than they would normally,” said Defreitas.

The big surge in South Korea is concerning.

“If history is any indication of what the Trump administration might do, I could see them contemplating travel ban on South Korea,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Green.

Green says Hawaii has a close bond with South Korea and especially with Japan. Losing tourism dollars from Japan would be a challenge for us in Hawaii.

“We are doing all that we can to make sure any of the trips that come in, we check people on that end. We ask them if they are sick, here we give them a card. Lots and lots of mitigation efforts,” he said.

As Green considers the finite resources, he also says if travelers come through with the flu, officials will be monitoring.

“We are going to be waiting and watching carefully because of their cases, certainly South Korea, that is going to take health care resources. That means our nursing staff is going to need lots of masks so they don’t have any risk, so these are real issues,” said Green. “We have talked to the CDC and to the White House, there’s a proposal for $2.5-billion appropriation for the whole nation which would go a long way to buy masks and tubing for IV fluids.”

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