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Breathing masks sold out, travel agents tell travelers not to panic over coronavirus

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Posted at 4:32 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 05:11:33-05

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The coronavirus is now considered a global health emergency. It's also spread for the first time from human to human in the U.S. It's a concern for travelers, but travel agencies say there is no need to panic or be afraid.

More flights in and out of China are being canceled. So agents at Palm Beach Travel are re-routing clients who had connecting flights in China.

"As of this morning, all flights in and out of China have been canceled and connecting flights in China have been canceled, so that has a created a situation where we have had to reroute clients who may be traveling to Singapore through China," said Annie Davis, the president of Palm Beach Travel.

Davis said her agency has received calls from clients asking if they should buy a breathing mask before traveling on a plane.

"Few of the problems we've been told, and we're not medical doctors, but we've been told that some of those breathing masks are ineffective at actually keeping out some of those germs," said Davis.

That's not stopping people from clearing the shelves. At Green's Pharmacy of Palm Beach, owner Allen Rutland said the store ran out of masks a week ago.

"It's been unavailable. I've got three wholesalers and none of them have any in stock," Rutland said.

Davis said talk with your travel agent or airline if you're concerned about an upcoming trip. She added make sure you have travel insurance and that you know what it covers. She said most insurances will not cover cancellations due to fear of the coronavirus.

Davis said there should be no reason to be afraid of traveling domestically or to other countries even with a low number of cases, just take sanitary precautions as you would to protect yourself from the flu.

"Cleaning your seat back pockets, your tray tables, your seat belt, the air vents. I mean, that's something you should always do. You know, your chance of getting the regular flu in an airplane is probably 100 times more likely than contracting the coronavirus," added Davis.