Do you have travel plans anytime soon? You might think it’s probably a bad time to travel overseas right now because of the coronavirus outbreak. But if you’re not traveling to China (or any other countries banned by your home country due to the coronavirus outbreak), maybe you don’t have to cancel your plans just yet! However, it’s very important that you regularly check the news for updates about this potential pandemic before boarding that plane.
[UPDATE as of 3/11/2020: COVID-19 is now characterized as a pandemic by WHO.]
[UPDATE as of 3/14/2020: Metro Manila will be on a month-long community quarantine amidst the coronavirus outbreak starting March 15, so that means land/air/sea travels will be restricted in and out of the metro.]
Keep on reading to learn more about the coronavirus outbreak and to know how you can protect yourself against it.
COVID-19, the newly discovered coronavirus disease that’s affecting many worldwide began in Wuhan, China in late December last year. Several cases of pneumonia were reported from there. According to reports, the source may be from a wet market in Wuhan selling live animals.
Since then, the virus has widely spread throughout the world especially because it coincided with the Lunar Year celebration. So most Chinese who visited their hometown might have been infected and traveled back to where they came from without even knowing they might be carrying the virus already.
Who may get this disease?
Anyone can catch the COVID-19, with a much higher risk for the elderly and those with existing health problems already. It can spread from person to person through contact with small droplets from nose or mouth from a person with COVID-19. The most common symptoms include fever and a dry cough. There’s no available treatment or vaccine for this type of virus yet. But the good news is that about 80% of those infected were reported to recover from the disease without needing special medication.
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 78,000 confirmed cases due to the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 2,400 number of confirmed deaths (mainly from China). Outside of China, here are the countries with the most number of confirmed cases: Korea (602), Japan (132), Singapore (89), Italy (76), Thailand (35), and the USA (35). All data are as of February 23. You can regularly check the updates from WHO here.
Since air travel is a major contributing factor in how viruses spread, it has made a huge impact on the airline industry. It’s predicted that air travel demand will fall drastically for the first time in 11 years since the 2008 global financial crisis. Many fear traveling right now amidst the coronavirus outbreak, especially within the heavily affected regions.
So you have booked and paid for your trip already? What now?
Always use your own judgment and weigh the pros and cons when considering if you will push through with your travel plans. If you can postpone your trip much better. Monitor the confirmed cases (if any) at your destination. Check if your country didn’t impose a travel ban. Check for any important flight advisories by visiting your airlines’ websites.
Make sure you bring extra clothes and money in case you will be sent for quarantine somewhere. Ensure you’re healthy enough to travel.
If you’re all set to go, here are some handy tips when traveling during this time.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or with alcohol. This is so important since we touch our face with our hands often. It helps eliminate the transfer of the virus from a contaminated object/person to your hands. Also avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Always cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Dispose of properly any used tissue and clean your hands immediately. This is so that you will not contaminate any objects or people that you contact.
- Stay away from crowded places and keep at least 3 feet distance between yourself and other people. Since those infected are more likely to cough and sneeze, you may catch the small droplets containing the virus if you’re too close to them.
- It’s advised not to visit live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets for now. As always, wash hands properly after touching animals.
- Best not to consume any raw or undercooked animal products (say bye to sushi for now). Handle raw food with care so as not to cross-contaminate with other food.
⚠️ Help stop the spread of the disease! Be a responsible traveler.⚠️
After returning from your trip, quarantine yourself if needed for the whole incubation period (up to 14 days). If you experience any coronavirus symptoms, immediately go to a doctor for a check-up. Always keep your hands clean — this is actually more effective than wearing a mask.
Keep safe everyone! Let’s all pray that this ends soon and that no one gets infected by this deadly virus anymore. Let’s also pray for those already infected that they recover soon.
For more information and to keep yourself updated about the coronavirus outbreak, visit the WHO website.