Is it Safe to Travel amid Coronavirus Epidemic?
One of the major downsides of keeping up with the latest news reports on Coronavirus is the dilemma that lurks in one’s mind- is it safe to travel amid the epidemic? Especially when you have an important business meeting to attend to overseas.
Since late December 2019, Coronavirus has managed to spread over 79 countries and claimed more than 3000 lives. Rate of infection has crossed over 1 lakh people and still counting. These are unfortunate times to live in. We can not keep on blaming the Wuhan government forever for not implementing timely actions to contain the virus. The best we can do in the present circumstances is to protect ourselves by adopting the best preventive measures.
Impact on international travel industry
Needless to say, travelling is at the very most bottom of the to-do list these days. News reports from all over the world have confirmed cases of Coronavirus from various countries. It is evident now that the virus is not limited to the Asian countries and has spread around the world. It is obvious that travelling is one of its mode of transmission. This has affected the international travel industry the most. It has become quite common for people to frantically cancel on their business trips or overseas vacations. Major airlines have taken quite a fall in terms of declining travelling frequency in the past few months.
Not only the affected countries, but the neighbouring regions are also advising people to stay at home and avoid any public gatherings. This has resulted in the cancellation of many national and social events all across the globe including India. Holi celebrations have also taken quite a hit. Noteworthily, nation’s PM Narendra Modi has himself decided to refrain from participating in the upcoming festival.
Is COVID-19 airborne?
The novel Coronavirus that has been named SARS-CoV-2 is found to be Zoonotic. Which means their mode of transmission is between animal to animal. More research is required to unfold how exactly the virus was originated but most speculations are directed towards bats to be the origin and pangolins as the intermediate hosts which ultimately got transmitted to humans.
How does it spread?
Although the virus which causes COVID-19 in humans is Zoonotic, its further transmission between humans is the matter of greater concern. It is transmitted via airborne respiratory droplets of an infected individual. In simpler terms, through coughing, sneezing or by coming in contact with a surface where the droplets may have accumulated. There is very limited evidence for claims stating the virus can spread through contaminated faecal matter. Until the reports go higher in its support, this claim has no danger signals yet. Hence, we could say that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne, although the supporting cases are not that common.
Speaking in terms of being completely airborne, Coronavirus do not seem to have the virulence capacity of more potent viruses such as Measles. Which means the chances of getting the infection from an infected space or surface is less likely. Nevertheless, safe hygiene practices should be implemented on a daily basis to minimize even the 0.00001% chances of infection.
What precautionary measures can be taken?
The best way to handle a viral disease is to protect yourself before it makes its strike. You can prevent catching COVID-19 by employing simple hygiene practice in your daily routine.
Washing your hands thoroughly with a strong cleanser every time before eating, after you come from the bathroom and when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough.
I have covered this whole topic in another blog, named, “How to live with the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak?”
Follow the link to know more.
When to call your doctor?
If you have not been to the high-risk countries such as China, Iran, Japan in the past few months and are down with the symptoms of flu, it is most likely that you have not caught CoV-2. In this case, you should follow the usual protocol of taking a healthy diet and taking complete rest until you recover.
If you are sick and have visited those countries or have come in contact with someone who’ve been there and is now sick with symptoms of coughing, fever, difficulty in breathing, you should contact your doctor or local emergency centre. They will then help you to get the required tests and treatment alternatives to be taken.
Should you proceed with your travelling plans?
Avoiding disease-prone areas or travelling only to safe zones are the requisites for remaining infection-free. But you cannot deny the fact that the vessel that will be carrying over 100 people needs to be infection-free too. Yes, chances are you might be travelling with a person who has contracted the virus but is showing no visible symptoms yet. In such cases, the situation becomes scarier in the absence of confirmation.
What to do then?
Health authorities all across the globe have issued certain measures to be taken in public places where physical contact is unavoidable. Moreover, travel industries are taking up serious sanitation measures for decontamination of their modes of transportation. It is highly unlikely for CoV-2 to sustain in a well-decontaminated environment, hence it should be enough to put your worries to rest.
The general advice is to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between you and the infected. But it is not the best resort in public transports where everyone is bound to limited space. Sanitizing your area is the best viable option.
Don’t touch your face with your bare hands, especially eyes, nose and mouth. If possible keep your face covered, it will prevent any foreign substance entry via your hands. Gloves are not a feasible option as the main objective is to protect your face. An infected glove serves the same purpose as that of a bare hand. However, if you are taking care of an infected person, gloves and masks both should be part of your attire.
Avoid touching surfaces that are more exposed. If you must, say support yourself on the hanging strap of a train, disinfect your hand immediately with a 95% alcohol-based sanitizer and wash your hands properly afterwards with an efficient cleanser.
Keep your mouth covered with a mask around those who seem to show symptoms of infection.
If you plan to visit China out of all places, pay attention to all the preventive measures and cooperate with the local airport’s security protocol, which includes the mandatory screening tests for CoV-2. Since you already know the origin theories of the virus, it will be wise to stay away from live animal markets.
Wear your mask only if you are infected!
Public health experts do not recommend wearing masks for healthy people. As there is a global panic that is haunting people all across, it is natural that a shortage of protective gears will also occur. People who have not contracted the virus need not wearing it all the time or out in public. Medical practitioners, caregivers and infected people are in the dire need of wearing them. Over precautionary actions might lead to a shortage of supplies for the needful, as it is happening all over the world. Hence, have a hold of your senses and spread the word.
In conclusion, your travelling choices will affect your susceptibility to the virus only when you negate the precautionary measures mentioned above. Until and unless you consider and adopt the necessary course of action, travelling anywhere should be safe. Just not the Eastern-Asian regions for a while, or maybe longer!