coronavirus

Chicago Family Stranded in Taiwan Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Chicago family was stranded in Taiwan Tuesday, unable to continue flying to their destination of the Philippines after the country enacted a travel ban to try and contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The Buado family said they had been planning their trip to the Philippines for more than a year, traveling with family, a group of friends and their 15-month-old daughter in tow.

In China, the epicenter of the outbreak, officials say the coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people and more than 42,000 cases have been confirmed.

Although Taiwan is not governed by China, Beijing claims the island as its own and the World Health Organization places Taiwan in the same category as China when examining cases of the virus.

Regular surgical face masks are not effective in protecting against the coronavirus. A more specialized face mask known as N95 respirators are thicker than surgical masks and are fitted to a person’s face to keep out any viral particles.

The Philippines made the decision to stop foreigners from entering their country from Taiwan in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, despite Taiwan having just 18 cases of the illness.

Taiwanese officials have been urging the Philippines to lift the travel restrictions - but the Buado family said they didn't find out about the ban until it was too late to turn back.

"The travel ban actually happened when we were already nine hours in flight so we didn’t find anything out until we landed and they didn’t tell us until maybe a half hour in that the flight was boarding," Calvin Buado said via FaceTime interview.

The Buados said they spoke with officials at the U.S. embassy about what's next for them.

"They made a 14-day ban and they’re meeting tomorrow, we’re sticking around here in Taipei in Taiwan and seeing if they can potentially lift the ban and allow us to travel to the Philippines within the next couple of days," Buado said.

Buado said his parents, mother-in-law and young daughter were making the trip back home to Chicago, but he and his wife decided to stay to see if they can continue on their journey.

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