With news channels and newspapers reporting about the new coronavirus every minute, everybody seems to be thrown into a frenzy.
Tech giants are advising their employees to work from home. People around the world with cases of coronavirus reported in their cities are panic buying toilet paper. Countries are imposing travel bans and restrictions, and China has locked down the city of Wuhan, where the virus is reported to have originated.
If like most travelers, you already have travel plans for the coming months, what should you do? Do you cancel your trip or do you push through?
Let’s have a look at the situation in more detail so you can make a better decision.
Disclaimer: We are not medical experts. We have based this article on various news reports and official statements about the coronavirus.
Disclaimer #2: This situation is evolving rapidly. We will not be able to keep this up-to-date when it comes to things like travel bans, but we will link to other resources you can check and double-check.
It depends on you and your travel plans
If you are traveling to China, you may want to think twice or thrice. Though it is only Wuhan that is on lockdown, many countries have imposed travel bans to China, and there’s a high chance you may not find a flight going in and out of the country.
If you do manage to get a flight, you might be turned away from entering another country (or your own home country) after your trip to China.
If you are allowed to enter the country, you might be required to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
It’s the same case with travels to Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan.
People who are living in Japan are showing how empty the streets are, especially in areas known to be swarming with tourists. This can be a boon: flights and hotel prices are dropping. However, this also means that some attractions like Disneyland Japan and the Ghibli Museum are temporarily closed.
Consider your circumstances at home
If you are a healthy adult who practices good hygiene, you have a lower chance of contracting the new coronavirus and are fit to travel.
However, think of the situation when you come home. Do you have someone in your household that is immunocompromised? How will it affect them when you come back from your trip to a country that has reported cases of the coronavirus?
It is also advised that you self-quarantine for up to 14 days since the coronavirus can take that long to incubate. Is this something that you can do to help contain the virus and not spread it in your community?
Stay updated with the current travel restrictions
Here’s a comprehensive live update of the coronavirus travel restrictions in play across the globe.
Are you booked to go on a cruise? Make sure to always check with your cruise line regarding the latest update and travel advisory on their cruises. Whether you decide to cancel or push through with your trip, make sure that you are covered by your travel insurance.
If you still want to travel…
Domestic travel is the way to go. This way, you can avoid having to self-quarantine (if you travel to a country with known COVID-19 cases) or having to adjust travel plans as new travel restrictions and bans come into place.
Opt for trips that would not require you to go to crowded places like airports or train stations. Maybe go for a camping trip or a staycation at a luxury resort?
The new coronavirus is not an airborne disease. Rather, it spreads via droplets. That is why people who have coughs and colds are advised to wear a facemask — to prevent them from spreading their germs and/or possible viruses.
It is not certain yet how long the virus can survive on a surface, but previous studies on coronaviruses have found that it may persist for a couple of hours or up to several days. This, of course, may vary depending on the environment.
Always wash your hands
Since the coronavirus spreads by droplets, the best advice is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. A quick rinse will not cut it — full-on soaping your hands and getting into the nooks and crannies of your fingers is the way to go.
Wash your hands when you have touched surfaces in public, when you get home, after using the toilet, and definitely before eating. And if you can help yourself – don’t touch your face unless you have washed your hands first.
Sanitize with 60% alcohol
If you’re outside and can’t wash your hands, you can substitute hand sanitizers and alcohol. Just make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol to make it effective in killing the coronavirus.
- Easier said than done when many stores have empty shelves where hand sanitizer once lived. You may have luck with some stocks on Amazon.
Keep your immune system healthy
Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone and may cause additional, yet unintentional stress to the body, which can lead to lower body resistance to the coronavirus.
Counter this by taking vitamin supplements, keeping hydrated, eating nutritious food, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.
Though the World Health Organization advises against imposing travel and trade restrictions in light of the new coronavirus, many countries have already imposed their own bans.
- The Chinese government has put the city of Wuhan in lockdown and has even ordered travel agencies to stop selling group tours overseas in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
- As the coronavirus spread around the world, countries are imposing travel bans and restrictions for South Korea, Italy, Iran, including Chinese territories like Hong Kong and Macau.
- The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. Older travelers or travelers with chronic medical conditions are advised to postpone their travels to Japan.
- Here is an updated list of travel restrictions across the globe by country.
In case you need a little more background on the virus:
A coronavirus is a family of viruses that can infect both humans and animals. It is known to cause respiratory infections in humans that can range from a simple cold to more serious diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The first reported case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, was in Wuhan City in the Hubei province of China. As of publication, there is still no specific medicine to treat those infected with the new coronavirus. There is also no vaccine yet, but there are already possible vaccines undergoing clinical trials.
The symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to that of the flu: fever, fatigue, nasal congestion, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, etc. However, those infected with the coronavirus may also be asymptomatic — they do not show any symptoms of the disease nor do they feel unwell.
That is why a 14-day self-quarantine is advised if you have traveled to a place where there are reported cases of the coronavirus.
Most patients who have contracted the disease recover, with only 1 out of 6 patients getting seriously ill. Of those who have gotten seriously ill or have died, many have underlying medical problems (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems).
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. We hope that this article has given you insight into the current situation about traveling in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.
Pushing through with your travel plans, rerouting to another country or region, or canceling it altogether is entirely up to you and your current circumstances. Just remember that whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to wash your hands!