In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak, travelers started questioning what they can do about their upcoming trips. In case you get stuck in the same situation, keep in mind that, before you proceed traveling to a certain destination, your safety should be prioritized.
Keep reading to find out what travelers should know about the coronavirus outbreak.
What is the novel coronavirus?
The scientific names of the novel coronavirus are 2019-nCoV and COVID-19. 2019-nCoV is a contagious respiratory illness that first appeared in December 2019, in China, and quickly spread to other 38 countries. Though the official numbers indicate that there are more than 83,700 cases worldwide (over 78,800 in Mainland China), approximately 80% of the cases lead to full recovery without any special treatment. Those who have preexisting conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease are more likely to develop a severe illness.
Based on the WHO’s (World Health Organization) reports, over 2,800 people have died from the coronavirus disease, and more than 36,600 have recovered. The fatality rate in Wuhan, the Chinese city with the largest number of coronavirus cases, is 2-4%, and 0.7% in other countries with coronavirus.
This is not the first time a respiratory virus like coronavirus creates an epidemic. SARS coronavirus, first identified in 2003, had a 10% fatality rate; and MERS, identified in 2012, with a 35% fatality rate. Consequently, the statistics show a considerably lower rate of fatality due to 2019-nCoV than the other two respiratory viruses.
Where to avoid traveling the nearest time?
People living within China and those who have traveled to/through/from China in the nearest 14 days are more exposed to COVID-19. Travelers who have returned from China more than two weeks ago, and show no coronavirus symptoms, can’t spread the virus as they aren’t infected.
It is cautious to avoid the infection by postponing or forgoing all insignificant trips to the affected areas, inclusive of China and South Korea. You may also travel with high precautions to several other countries such as Japan, Italy, and Iran, where the number of coronavirus cases has escalated recently. The official advice comes from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Before you proceed traveling to a specific area within a less affected country, please do research and seek advice from the local government.
Should you postpone or cancel the travel plans?
In light of the current situation, it is hard to say when and where the next outbreak is going to take place if it will at all. Hence, those who have already booked tickets to the existent countries and cities with coronavirus might want to check cancellation policies. Pay attention to the cancellation windows (if these are) and reassess your travel plans before these get closed. Additionally, find out what the concerning airline’s travel waivers are, and see when you can rebook your flight.
Since many airlines have been suspending flights to the affected areas, the following ones for the nearest future won’t be possible. For instance, US-based air carriers like Delta, American, and United suspended their flights to China until the end of April.
Currently, any travel involves some risk of contracting 2019-nCoV. Due to the everchanging statistics and reports about new locations struck by the novel coronavirus, it is thoughtful to double-check traveling or not to the desired destination.
As the respiratory virus has been proved to be transmitted through droplets, keep correct hygiene.
Among the protective measures against COVID-19 are:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water,
- Keep a 1m (3 ft) distance while interacting with a person who coughs and/or sneezes,
- Avoid touching the eyes, mouth, and nose,
- Make sure to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing,
- Seek medical care if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
And, ensure you stay up-to-date with the recent news if you have to travel, or if you are in an affected area.
Stay healthy and updated for new info!