Coronavirus travel precautions

COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak & travel precautions

As the Coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak is evolving rapidly and the threat is increasing people are afraid to travel in both domestic and international flights. Many companies are cancelling international travel of employees to keep them safe. Many airlines cancelled their International flights to China and few other Asian countries.  If you must travel, then you must understand how coronavirus spreads and how we should keep safe during travel?

As per the health reports, use of both face masks and rubber gloves does not do much on controlling the virus spread. According to health advisors for travel in airlines, the best way to avoid coronavirus is hand washing – frequent hand washing!

What we should know about air travel during this outbreak?

CDC and other health divisions have issued highest level of travel alerts to China, South Korea. These are the two countries that have highest record of coronavirus patients.

CDC is also warning travelers to Italy, Iran and Japan to practice enhanced precautions. These countries are next on the list with highest coronavirus illness.

If you must travel, then read up policies of the countries that you pass through. You must also know your country’s policy about the people who have visited places with coronavirus outbreaks. Visit Government health websites to understand the travel restrictions and advisories. If you visit a country and there is outbreak and in case, you catch coronavirus can you get back home? Will your country quarantine you if you happened to have been in the country where virus is spreading? Use similar precautions to prevent coronavirus that you use for any other type of respiratory disease. If you have travel plan, check with airlines, look at travel advisory level for the country you are intended to travel.

Types of travel notices (CDC):

Level 3: Warning

Warning Level 3 (Red): Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination. The outbreak is of high risk to travelers and no precautions are available to protect against the identified increased risk.

  • Level 2: Alert

Alert Level 2 (Yellow): Practice enhanced precautions for this destination. The Travel Health Notice describes additional precautions added, or defines a specific at-risk population.

  • Level 1: Watch

Watch Level 1 (Green): Practice usual precautions for this destination, as described in the Travel Health Notice and/or on the destination page. This includes being up-to-date on all recommended vaccines and practicing appropriate mosquito avoidance.

Tips for traveling during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:

  1. The air supply in modern airliner is different from movie theater or an office. Air in air travel is combination of recirculated and fresh air. It is like surgical operating theaters. Supplied air 99.7% will be free of viruses and other particles. However, the risk of virus spread happens from other people. In flight, virus can spread through the cough and droplets from the cough and contact with sick person. If you are suspicious of someone who come across sick keep one-meter distance from the sick person.  Inform cabin crew about the person and if you develop coronavirus infection symptoms.
  2. If you are traveling by cruise, remember – cruise puts large number of people at risk as people around the world travel in close contact with each other. This promotes spread of respiratory infection. Stay in cabin if you are sick and inform cabin crew if you develop coronavirus symptoms.
  3. “CDC does not recommend travelers wear face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19”. Mask is essential for sick person.  You may choose to wear a mask, but it is more important that you take these steps.
  4. Avoid any type of contact with sick people. Only people who are sick with coronavirus and have symptoms can transfer the disease to other person through contact. Coronavirus is not air borne (WHO)
  5. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  6. Wash and clean your hands after going to bathroom, before eating, after sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose.
  7. Clean your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol.
  8. Carry 100 ml alcohol sanitizer bottle with you while traveling. Check with your travel agency regarding the bottle sizes that are allowed onboard for air travel.
  9. If your hands are visibly dirty make sure to use soap and water should be used to clean.
  10. Cough into your elbow. Throw tissues in trash after cleaning nose and mouth.
  11. Passengers who are sick will be separated from rest of the travelers and confined to an area if they are sick during travel.
  12. If you are wearing face mask, do not touch outside surface of the mask (WHO).
  13. Take same precautions if you are staying in hotel. Use similar protection and precaution as if you are staying at home.
  14. Infants and young children should be protected with same precautions and procedures as adults.
  15. Virus can survive 30 minutes on surface. Hand washing is the only solution to get rid of the virus in case we touch any such surface.
  16. After return from your trip, watch for any symptoms (fever, shivering, shortness of breath) related to Coronavirus for 14 days. If you develop any symptoms contact your physician. Wear mask while seeing your doctor.


Image credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
(Free commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: February 28, 2020

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