Korean Air: Crew member tests positive for virus

DEPARTURE: Passengers don surgical masks as they make their way through the Guam airport's departure area on Friday. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised its caution on travel to South Korea to the highest level, Korean Air confirmed Tuesday a member of its cabin crew has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

With the development, Korean Air shut down its office near the Incheon International Airport, where the crew briefing room is located.

The airline did not state what routes and flights the cabin crew member was on prior to the discovery of the infection.

Korean Air was one of three Seoul-based airlines that have reduced flights to Guam in light of the downturn in air travel over novel coronavirus concerns.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the airline of the employee confirmed to have been infected, an airline spokeswoman told Reuters.

Korean Air has reduced flights to Guam because of reduced travel demand.

CDC heightens travel warning level

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. CDC issued "Warning Level 3." This means Americans are urged to avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea because of "widespread community transmission," CDC stated.

South Korea has confirmed 893 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which is the highest number of cases for any country outside of China.

Guam doesn't have a single confirmed case of the coronavirus, but the global fear of travel has adversely affected the local tourism industry.

The government of Guam is monitoring the developments in the region, the governor's office stated.

Canceled flights

More Korea-Guam flights have been canceled.

As of Tuesday, the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority confirmed 82 flights between South Korea and Guam have been canceled from Feb. 14 to March 15.

That's an increase from the 57 flights that Korean Air, Jin Air and Jeju Air canceled for the Guam route between Feb. 14 and March 1.

These cancellations mean a 25% decrease in seat capacity in a month's time for the South Korean market, said Rolenda Lujan Faasuamalie, the Guam airport's marketing administrator.

South Korea accounts for the bulk of tourist arrivals on Guam – 753,357 out of 1.66 million last year.

Guam's second-largest tourist market, Japan, which accounted for 684,802 of Guam's arrivals last year, hasn't seen any flight cancellations, said Faasuamalie.


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