Advice,  Travel

Coronavirus – Is it still safe to travel?

What is it?

The novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a severe acute respiratory syndrome, first reported on the 1st of December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital city of the Hubei province in China. Since that time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global pandemic, reporting over 170,000 confirmed cases in over 140 countries worldwide.

As the virus spreads to the rest of the world, it has ground economies to a halt, restricted international travel & commerce and crashed the global stock market.

The question now is – Should you Travel?

A fortnight ago, my answer would have been a cautious yes, because although a few countries had travel restrictions and lockdown protocols, general public health rhetoric for travellers was to be safe and practice usual precautions. However, in the last two weeks, we have seen the rapid spread of the virus, a pandemic announcement by WHO and more countries employing stricter quarantine procedures and some nations, like Italy, currently in lockdown. So, today, my answer is measured no to all non-essential travel.

Europe’s unenviable status as the new epicentre for the virus provides an opportunity to apply some of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of this outbreak, for individuals who are still planning on travelling overseas. I will share some basic things for you to note to, as you prepare to travel.

Bookings

Although the flights right now are cheaper than ever, I mean they are dirt cheap, it may be best for you to book now and travel later in the year when the situation is more controlled.

I know you want to live your best life, but now is not the time to throw caution to the wind. You want to take the necessary precautions and prepare for your trip. If you have an already pre-existing condition, you are more vulnerable to complications from the virus and should reconsider travelling during this time.

Necessary protective/ precautionary measures to take

Symptoms to look out for

The main symptoms one should look out for as a sign of the virus is a dry cough, fever and aches & pains, breathing difficulties, fatigue and myalgia. If you are displaying any of these symptoms get tested as soon as you can and self-quarantine.

Hygiene

  • Wash your hands often, use an alcohol based hand sanitiser, do not touch your face after touching surfaces and use disinfectant wipes when you come in contact with public surfaces.
  • Cover your mouth with a bent elbow or with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Social Distancing

  • It’s important to practice social distancing now as some people may have it but not be showing any symptoms, respect peoples personal space and above all keep your distance from anyone who is sick.

Monitor the situation

  • To monitor the situation you can visit the WHO site for their daily situation report which gives a detailed account of the countries affected, the number of suspected and confirmed cases, and whether or not they are imported or local cases. If you still wish to travel, make sure you consult the situation report to identify which countries are considered low-risk destinations, where they have very few reported cases, where you will be least likely to contract the virus, be quarantined, or stuck.
  • Current Hot Spots/ High risk destinations: China, Italy, Germany, Spain, South Korea, France, Iran.

Below I have included a link to the latest WHO situation report which was on the 15th of March.

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200315-sitrep-55-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=33daa5cb_8

Travel insurance

  • While advisable to stop any non-essential international travel for now, if you still wish to travel, have a contingency plan when booking your flight. It’s important to get your travel insurance, you’ll be covered if for any reason there is a sudden shutdown of the country you intend to travel to, or you want to cancel your flight. Some insurance policies include “cancel for any reason”, you will be covered in case your airline or hotel cancel, if the government declares an emergency or if something else interrupts your trip.

For more information you can visit these sites:

With the increase in the spread of the virus, it may be best for you to stay put, have a “staycation”, explore your city; go to the beach, wait for the dust to settle, monitor the situation, and hopefully, when the virus is controlled you can begin your travels again. It doesn’t have to be an exotic destination, get creative.

Knowledge and awareness eliminate fear and panic. So, monitor the situation, remain aware and prioritise your hygiene.

Stay Safe!

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