10 Tips to Help You Travel During Corona Outbreak
The world wakes up to the news that the new strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, is declared pandemic by WHO. So what does it mean to travel in the time of corona? We’ve put together 10 tips to help you travel safely and responsibly during the corona outbreak.
Update: March 28, 2020. With almost all airports around the world closed, it is now impossible to travel internationally.
What exactly is coronavirus and the disease that it causes?
Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. One type of a coronavirus is the COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019”. This is the official name given by the World Health Organization to the disease caused by this newly identified coronavirus.
If the flu kills more people than COVID-19, why are we so worried about COVID-19?
It seems the way news and social media report the outbreak is the main cause of panic. There are so many myths surrounding the COVID-19 and these misinformation lead to fear. There’s the fact that there’s currently no medication or vaccine for COVID-19.
People read more about how many are getting infected and how many are dying. We need also to learn that many people have mild symptoms and eventually recover. For instance, to date, 68,319 have recovered from the disease.
While is it currently advised to avoid traveling, there are certain situations where it becomes necessary to travel. If you must travel in the time of coronavirus outbreak, please consider the following points when making plans.
1. Check governments websites
I’m currently in India. If I go on to check India’s travel advisory, I’ll find that all existing visas issued to nationals of any country (with a few exceptions) stand suspended till April 15, 2020.
2. Find out the quarantine rules of the country you plan to visit
Besides the risk of being exposed to the virus there are other important matters you need to be aware of. Travel delays, inspections and quarantine are a few examples.
Travel delays are expected because of inspections, filling out forms, etc. Some of the major and busiest international airports in the world started announcing preventive safety measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
Check airline websites for travel restrictions. Singapore Airlines website, for example, mentions that all new visitors with recent travel history to Iran, northern Italy or the Republic of Korea within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter into or transit through Singapore.
Depending on your travel history, you will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread or ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice).
3. Take strict safety precautions
You are increasing your risk of exposure by traveling, therefore take strict safety precautions to protect yourself against the virus. Avoid large crowds and wash your hands regularly.
It’s as much about you and as it is about keeping other people safe and reducing the risk of transmission while traveling during the coronavirus outbreak.
4. Wearing a face mask is generally not recommended
You don’t need to pack dozens of face masks for your trip. Masks are not recommended to people who are well. In fact, putting on a face mask without proper fitting and training could actually increase your risk. Remember we are told how not to touch our nose and mouth without washing our hands first? Well, with ill-fitting masks, you’re going to be touching your face, which increases your chances getting the disease.
If you must wear one, please learn when and how to use masks to protect yourself and others.
5. Maintain social distancing
In restricting your own movements, you are going to reduce your individual risk, but you’re also reducing the risk of others who are more vulnerable.
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. CDC recommends 6 feet, but that’s not always going to be possible.
If you can’t drive or walk to where you need to go, consider commuting by public transit during off-peak hours.
If you have to go to the store, minimise contact with other people. Use self-service checkout whenever there’s one.
Avoid public places such as entertainment or sports events.
6. Opt for transport and hotels with flexible cancellation policies when booking
Choose hotels with refundable rooms or home rentals with relaxed cancellation policies when booking accommodations.
Likewise, some airline companies have announced they’ll be waiving change fees for flights booked within certain periods. Be sure to check with your airline carrier website and read the T&Cs before booking.
7. Be prepared for some public events to be cancelled or tourist attractions closed
Disneyland, Broadway and White House tours, all tourist attractions in Italy, and The National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea are among the many attractions world-wide that are closed until further notice.
Checking online prior to booking or making plans will help you travel safely during the corona outbreak and save you precious time.
8. Read the fine print on your travel insurance
The number of people buying travel insurance rose sharply, despite the fact that most policies won’t even pay out if people cancel due to concerns around coronavirus. Most standard insurance policies will not cover flight cancellations and delays due to coronavirus
If you choose to travel to an area that has been advised against, this would be classed as a known risk and would invalidate an insurance policy.
9. Select a window seat if you’re traveling by air
Studies have shown that window seat passengers had fewer close encounters than people in other seats. Choosing a window seat and staying put clearly lowers your likelihood of coming into contact with an infectious disease.
10. Stay informed and travel responsibly
If you must travel in the time of corona outbreak, do so responsibly. Be well-informed and up-to-date. Protect yourself and others.
WHO has listed basic protective measures against the coronavirus.
CDC has answered frequently asked questions related to travelling.