With all the news these days creating a heightened awareness about the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or nCoV), it is natural that we as travellers around the world are on edge. There is still much to be discovered about this virus and it is our responsibility as global citizens to be aware of the virus, steer clear of heavily impacted areas and use the same preventive measures used to avoid influenza and other illnesses.
It is important to note that anything noted here in this thread cannot be taken as pure fact, though we do ask for everyone to make sure any information posted to be as factual as possible — do your due diligence and make sure to do your own research before making decisions regarding travel (ie. if you should cancel your trip or not). We cannot tell you what to do, and no one here should be telling you what to do. That is up to you to make an informed decision about.
With that being said we have provided some general advice and FAQ for your convenience, based on information taken from the WHO (World Health Organization) website.
How the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spreads
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.
Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.
Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections
The low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections, such as colds, flu and stomach bugs, and protect your yourself, your family, friends and co-workers.
- Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when
coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose.
- A medical mask is NOT required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask – of any type – protects non-sick persons. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal (see “When and how to use masks”).
Travel Advisories – To travel or not to travel?
There has been an increase in travel advisories being issued by countries around the world, urging caution for select destinations, and discouraging travel to others. As of February 29, 2020, the Director-General of WHO declared the current outbreak of COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern and issued Temporary Recommendations. WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. It is recommended that travellers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions. See more detailed information on international travel recommendations concerning COVID-19 here.
It is highly recommended, as it is for any international travel, to always research and check on travel advisories for your destination before you book and before you leave for your trip. WHO has provided a great resource on general precautions for international travel and health that includes information on insurance for travellers, travel-related risks, medical consultation before travel and responsibility of the traveller.
For the most recent information, please check your own government’s website for travel advisories. You can also find daily COVID-19 situation reports on the WHO website.
All travellers MUST comply with instructions from local authorities where they are traveling. If, for example, they are told by local authorities not to go somewhere they should comply with this.
General recommendations and advice for the public
If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak. Get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions (See Frequently Asked Questions).
Seek guidance from WHO, your healthcare provider, your national public health authority or your employer for accurate information on COVID-19 and whether COVID-19 is circulating where you live. It is important to be informed of the situation and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family. If you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice of WHO and guidance issued by national and local health authorities. For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes) are at risk for severe disease).
To keep up to date with how members of the Girls Who Travel community are handling the coronavirus, follow the dedicated coronavirus thread in our Facebook group.
This post was written by Graceleen, a moderator in our Girls Who Travel Facebook group and all around awesome gal!
Girls Who Travel is an education and empowerment community dedicated to helping women explore beyond their boundaries. We welcome all people who identify as non-masculine/non-male to connect, educate and inspire each other with their stories, fears, knowledge, questions, and ideas. Because together we make each other strong. We hope you will join us and see the world.