You likely can’t get through your day right now without discussing the coronavirus at some point. And with good reason. Originating in Wuhan, China, there have been over 90,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths across the globe. The global stock markets are seeing a decline as travel slows, and people are hesitating to move forward with their vacation plans. However, there are still plenty of travelers who are following through with their holidays. Here’s our complete breakdown of the 10 things every traveler should know about the coronavirus.
Some Comforting Statistics
In terms of closed coronavirus cases, there is a 94% recovery rate as of early March 2020. Despite what some media outlets portray, the coronavirus isn’t a death sentence. Much like the regular flu, the coronavirus is most dangerous for the very young, very old, or individuals with existing illnesses. If you’re a healthy adult, your risk of complications from the coronavirus is significantly lower.
Airline Waivers and Refunds
Coronavirus is considered ‘an act of God,’ meaning many airlines and travel insurance policies are refusing to give refunds for booked airfare. However, as of early March 2020, many airlines are waiving the fees associated with changing flights. If you would feel more comfortable postponing your trip by a few weeks or months, reach out to the airline directly to better understand your options.
If you’re in the middle of booking a trip you’re unsure you’ll be able to take, consider upgrading to Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) travel insurance. It costs more but can give you peace of mind until your travel date.
Wash Your Hands
The most effective prevention tactic any traveler can implement is washing their hands. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Avoid touching your face, mouth, or eyes as much as possible. And wash your hands every time after being in public.
Antibacterial gels can work too, but ensure they contain at least 60% alcohol.
Get the Flu Shot
Make sure you, and everyone you’re traveling with, gets the flu shot. Currently, there is no vaccination for the coronavirus, but the flu shot helps protect people against bacterial pneumonia. In severe cases, a coronavirus infection can lead to pneumonia.
Avoid Markets That Sell Live Animals
There is some evidence that the virus originated in a live market selling seafood in Wuhan, China. It’s unclear if the virus was transmitted from bat to human, or from bats to a mammal (such as a pig) and then to humans. Either way, markets selling live animals pose an unnecessary risk. Avoid these markets during your travels.
If You Feel Sick During Travel, Go to a Doctor Immediately
Symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to the flu. Individuals report symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a local hospital right away.
Stay Away From Sick People
While you’re traveling, do your best to stay at least six feet away from people that are displaying flu-like symptoms or coughing. After being close to sick people, wash your hands as quickly as possible.
Wearing a Mask Doesn’t Do All That Much
While face masks are selling out everywhere, we don’t necessarily think you need to run out and grab one. There is no evidence to support that wearing a face mask will reduce your risk of getting sick. Instead, face masks are meant to lower the risk of spreading illness when you are already infected.
Washing your hands is the most effective and scientifically-backed preventative measure.
Check for Travel Warnings for Your Destination
The US State Department has issued its highest travel warning for China. Most airlines won’t fly to mainland China right now. Additionally, some recent outbreaks have caused multiple governments to warn their citizens to avoid travel to Iran, Italy, Mongolia, and South Korea. Level 2 warnings, urging travelers to proceed with increased caution, have been issued for Hong Kong, Japan, and Macau.
Ultimately, only you can decide what level of risk you’re comfortable with. Remember that postponing plans are usually an option. Or, consider changing your travel plans to a destination with minimal coronavirus cases.
Check Your Travel Insurance
For some peace of mind, call your travel insurance and make sure you have adequate coverage for hospital stays while you’re traveling. Oh, and in case it needs to even be said, we want to stress that you should get travel insurance.