Effect of virus fears already being felt

MVA encouraging hotels to consider waiving hotel cancellation charges

Citing a number of hotel cancellations, Saipan is already experiencing the effects of the newly discovered coronavirus that allegedly came from Wuhan, China, according to Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands president Gloria Cavanagh yesterday.

“I don’t believe that there are very many destinations that won’t be affected because of the coronavirus,” said Cavanagh.

Right now, the effect is minimal, she said, but it is impossible to predict how high the cancellation numbers will grow. She said screening is being done at China airports prior to boarding so cancellations are all very last-minute.

Cavanagh said the Marianas Visitors Authority is issuing a letter to encourage HANMI and other non-HANMI hotels to consider waiving cancellation charges as this is due to a somewhat unforeseen emergency.

“We are just hoping that the virus will be contained sooner than later,” said Cavanagh, who is also the MVA board’s vice chair.

Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said Wednesday night that CPA is trying to set up a meeting with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. right now to assist CPA with setting up the right processes and procedures for passenger screening.

According to CHCC Wednesday, its preparedness staff at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport is working with Customs and Quarantine to screen incoming passengers.

China reported Monday a sharp rise in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus. The outbreak of viral pneumonia started in the central city of Wuhan, according to the Associated Press.

AP said the outbreak has put other countries on alert as millions of Chinese travele for the Lunar New Year holidays.

At least a half-dozen countries in Asia and three U.S. airports have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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