Do you need to travel during the coronavirus outbreak? Tips for traveling during a health warning

Blurred people passing by an airport. There is a yellow sign pointing to the baggage and arrivals halls.

Unless you lived under a rock for the past week, you are probably aware of the coronavirus outbreak and how fast it has spread not only in China, but also all over the world. Today’s news was that China is closing its borders, not allowing its citizens to leave the country, starting from Monday.

First of all, what is the coronavirus and why is it so dangerous? The new virus spreading around China belongs to the Coronaviridae family (same as the flu or Ebola) but it’s new, something that hasn’t been encountered before, therefore there is no vaccine or cure for it. It originated in animals (probably bats or snakes) and spread to humans in a questionable meat market in Wuhan.

Chances are that by the time this article will be published, the virus would have reached many other countries in Europe, including the UK. As traveling by air is responsible for spreading the virus, I thought about writing an article about how best to take care of yourself if you are traveling by air in the next period. Of course, I am not a doctor, but I did work in the pharma industry for a few years, including during the 2009 N1H1 virus outbreak, which killed more than 18,000 around the world before a vaccine was developed, and I know a thing or two.

Before panicking about the number of cases of coronavirus and the alarming way is going up you need to know that many of the people who died were in poor health, which is quite normal when it comes to general flu too. There are probably many more cases that haven’t been identified because the symptoms are very mild. Now, what are the symptoms of getting infected with the new coronavirus? Pretty much the same ones as pneumonia, so cough, fever and breathing difficulties. As mentioned before, there is no cure, the only thing that the hospitals can do at the moment is to support the vital organs and to hydrate the body.

If you have a strong immune system, the chances are that you will be ok if you happen to get infected with the new coronavirus. However, children and elderly people, as well as the ones who have respiratory problems are at higher risk.

It is yet to be studied how the coronavirus is transmitted from human to human, with early believes that through cough, sneezing and close contact with an infected person. Also, it is believed that an infected human is contagious from the incubation period, when he doesn’t show any symptoms.

So, what can you do if you need to travel by air during the next weeks?

 

Tips for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak

If you are really worried or if you are in one of the risk categories, the best thing to do would be to cancel your trip. If you can’t cancel and you can’t avoid traveling, then follow these simple hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hands with soap as many times as possible. Dry your hands with a paper towel instead of the automatic hand-dryer in the airport’s toilets, which can spread germs.
  • Carry antibacterial gel and use it every time you touch public surfaces. I was in a big airport recently and I have used half a bottle of sanitiser in one trip just because I kept forgetting not to hold the rail of the escalators.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as this is the easiest way the germs spread.
  • Wipe the tray table on the plane with alcohol-based antibacterial wipes. We all use the tray table on flights, either to eat or to put our devices on to watch movies. You would be surprised to know that those tray tables carry more germs than the loos on the plane!
  • If you are traveling to countries that have been affected by the coronavirus, avoid eating street food or even better, don’t eat any meat, eggs or milk. Also avoid contact with all animals. Sure, that stray cat is cute, but don’t touch it.
  • If you choose to wear a mask, make sure it covers both your mouth and nose, and throw it away after each use.

 

Being in an airport after the coronavirus outbreak started, I was amazed of how many people don’t cover their mouths when they cough. If you are sick, it is your duty to not spread the germs to other people! If you can’t cancel your trip at least wear a mask, to protect other travellers. When you cough or sneeze cover your mouth with a tissue and then throw it in the bin straight away, don’t keep it for a later use.

If you present the symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, coughing, shortness of breath), do not travel. Call your GP and share your traveling history, your healthcare professional will let you know what is best to do. By going to the surgery or hospital, if you actually have the virus, you risk spreading it around to a lot of other people.

 

 

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

39 Comments

  1. These are some great tips. I always worry about getting sick when I travel. This virus makes things a bit scarier. We won’t be going anywhere until the summer, so hopefully it’s better by then.

  2. This is truly a fear of mine. To think I was afraid of getting the flu when we were traveling last month. These are great tips.

  3. I cruise a lot and there are a lot of fears about getting sick on cruise ships. I’ve found that just by keeping up with hygiene has helped me to not get sick and I will continue to be that day in my regular life as well.

  4. People underestimate how dirty the inside of the planes are. Use safety precautions when going out and if you can, don’t travel at all. Stay at home and avoid crowded public area.

  5. I am always getting sick when travel. Don’t know why….but in your article, there are some great tips that I will use next time.

  6. Great advice here, it is so easy to panic about outbreaks like this, especially given the levels we have seen previously.

    Travelling with caution is key i think x

  7. These are some wonderful tips – there is so much being said about this outbreak at the moment, it is hard to know what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

  8. It is so scary the new coronavirus that is spreading. I remember very well when swine flu was spreading around the world in 2009. I had some of the symptoms at the time and the doctor thought I was infected. Luckily I had something else. Fingers crossed the coronavirus will go away soon!

  9. Some great tips. It sure is scary luckily as yet no cases in the UK. Like you said it’s trying to catch it early but with flights that makes it harder.

  10. This is such a handy post with some great tips. Thankfully I am not flying by air for the forseeable future but I know people who are so will pass this link along to them.

  11. Thanks for the tips! It’s really driving me paranoid lately with this virus outbreak. My immune system has not been so good lately — so easy getting caught with common cough and colds.

  12. Some great tips here, I think China closing it’s borders is a great move for them to try and contain the virus but lets hope it doesn’t spread too much more x

  13. I am so funny when it comes to public transport as a whole . I don’t plan on any trips anytime soon but great tips for anyone who is

  14. These are great tips, especially wiping down the tray on the airplane.
    I am fortunate to have a healthy immune system so I rarely get sick, but you never know.

    1. Nice tips and actually we should follow this during all trips no matter the outbreak. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer is a must for me wherever I take flight.

  15. It really is sad that there is yet another virus that is causing such pain and sorrow. These are great tips for people to be made aware. I have no plans to travel before summer so I can only hope that a solution is found by this time.

  16. Great tips! The biggest reasons disease is spread is because of lack of hygienic patterns and concern for our own germs! Washing hands and properly covering mouth/nose when sneezing and coughing can save a lot of sickness from spreading.

  17. Helpful article! I’m worried because I have to be on a plane for more than 10 hours in 2 months… Hope there’s some improvements by then!

  18. Thanks for sharing these tips on traveling. It’s always good to take precautions and avoid travel, but sometimes that is not an option. These tips will help those that have to travel.

  19. I’m so happy I don’t have to travel during this time! those are great tips for those who do, and I encourage it so we can contain it until it goes away and not continue to spread it! YIKES!

  20. Thanks for sharing this informative post and help travelers make educated decisions. This outbreak of Coronavirus is pretty scary.

  21. These are some great tips. Thank you for sharing. I’ve heard so much about this virus. I can’t scroll more than once without seeing it pop up. It’s a little scary.

  22. I would honestly be terrified to be traveling through any of the infected countries. But I understand that for some needs must and so they have little option.

  23. We are going to Jamaica in a few weeks and it has crossed my mind about the safety. These tips are useful, thank you

  24. Nice tips. It would be better to avoid traveling during the coronavirus outbreak. If one can’t avoid traveling then do all the safety measures to keep them safe.

  25. So many great tips, especially with tray table. I quite often get sick after coming back from holiday. I would be scared to travel now.

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