Declared as a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made its way to more than 203 countries across the globe. With more than 930,000 people infected globally and a current death toll of more than 47,000 (accurate as of 2 April 2020), it was first detected in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. As borders are closed and scientists race to create a vaccine, the world continues life with a hopeful prayer.
If you’re traveling during this precarious hour, take caution and keep these travel safety tips in mind.
What is the novel Coronavirus and symptoms to look out for
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness such as the common cold, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has never been identified in humans before and can be transmitted between animals and humans.
Symptoms of infection include:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Breathing difficulties
For more serious conditions, infections may escalate to severe acute respiratory syndrome, pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
How to prevent a novel Coronavirus infection while traveling
As the virus is transmitted between humans in droplets from sneezing, coughing and touch, it can be a daunting task to deal with huge crowds and be confined to a space for long periods of time while traveling.
To prevent infection, follow these fundamental steps:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as our hands touch many surfaces that may be contaminated
- Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
- Wear a face mask in public and dispose after use
- Keep a distance of at least 2 meters from people, especially if they have a fever and are coughing or sneezing
- Avoid eating undercooked or raw animal products in case of cross contamination
- Avoid touching feral animals such as stray cats and dogs, birds, rodents
What to do if you have the symptoms
If you or anyone in your travel party has a fever, cough and difficulty breathing during or after travel, seek medical attention immediately. Inform your health care provider about your travel history and if you have been in close contact with someone who has traveled to or from any affected countries.
It is important at this time that you limit contact with other people, wear a face mask and wash your hands frequently until you receive medical assistance.
If you experience mild respiratory symptoms, and have no travel history to any affected countries, do practice basic hand and respiratory hygiene. It is also best that you stay indoors until you have recovered as a lowered immune system is more susceptible to infections.
Check your travel route
With more than 930,000 reported cases of infection around the world, more and more countries and airlines are restricting travel to and from the affected countries. As such, it is important to plan your travel routes accordingly to avoid being stranded and having to pay a hefty price for a new ticket.
Check your flight connections and the travel restriction of your desired country of destination. Take care to avoid routes that may cause alarm. Even if you were in transit in the affected countries for a short period of time, you may be denied entry at your final destination.
If you have travel plans to Wuhan, China, or Hong Kong and Macau, check our information page for updates on airline status and its policy for rescheduling, rerouting and refund.