hoppaGo Marketing Team
The outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is continuing to evolve and spread, making many travellers fearful of venturing abroad. In fact, experts are saying that it could be the worst travel crisis since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
According to data from Google Trends, almost a third of travellers (29.8%) are concerned about the virus. In fact, the number of search queries for coronavirus symptoms have eclipsed those of the swine flu outbreak in 2009.
Cruise lines have been hit especially hard, after the quarantine of the Diamond Princess in Japan, where over 700 passengers were infected with the virus (up from 10 when the outbreak began), and at least six people have died.
Statistics like these have travellers worried. Is it safe to travel at all? Are planes and trains any safer than cruise ships? Should you just avoid certain hotspots, or is all travel dangerous? If you have to travel, is it possible to do so safely?
The short answer is that, yes it is possible to travel safely. Below, we’ve rounded up the best available advice to help you do just that – along with a convenient infographic that you can print out and take with you for your own reference.
You don’t need to cancel your travel
Unless you’re travelling to high-risk destinations, such as China, South Korea, Iran, and northern Italy, there is no reason to rethink your travel plans. Most countries around the world currently have an incredibly low risk of COVID-19.
Dr Carmen Dolea, Head International Health Regulations Secretariat of the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasised in an interview that people should not cancel their travel plans, adding that “the risk of being infected is low in many countries… Travellers should not cancel their plans, but they should take into account the various restrictions that airlines have put in place when planning for their next trips.”
The interactive map below shows the current destinations with the highest risk, where all nonessential travel should be avoided – this is especially true for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
How to stay safe while travelling
While it’s fairly safe for you to travel to low-risk countries, practice proper hygiene and take basic safety precautions throughout your trip. Print out our infographic and keep it handy when you travel to ensure that you’re taking the necessary precautions at all times.
Preventative advice for the coronavirus is very similar to that for seasonal influenza, so the tips below are great habits to develop overall as a means to avoid catching a number of different viruses while travelling.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid eating with your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains 60%–95% alcohol (pack some in your hand luggage).
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not readily available, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than into your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your hotel room, cabin, or even just around your seat on a plane using a disinfectant wipe.
- Avoid raw, unwashed foods, and prepare your food with regular hygiene practices.
- Avoid travelling if you are sick.
- If you get sick while on a cruise or in a hotel, stay in your room and let the onboard medical centre or hotel staff know immediately if you develop a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), begin to feel feverish, or have other symptoms (such as cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, or sore throat).
- If you become unwell while abroad, call your health provider and/or insurance company to discuss what you should do.
- Face masks have not proven especially helpful for individuals that are fit and well with no symptoms. As such, if you decide to use a mask, remember to you should still follow all the recommended precautions above to minimise the risk of infection.
- Face masks do help prevent sick people from spreading the virus, so if you do need to enter public spaces for any reason while sick, the best practice is to use a medical face mask and keep your hands clean and disinfected.
- Finally, don’t get caught up in media sensationalism. Avoid panicking or discriminating against others, and make an effort to keep things in perspective.
Be aware of travel restrictions
Be sure to also keep current travel and entry restrictions in mind when planning your trips.
International cruise lines are one of the hardest-hit sectors of the industry at the moment since the risk of infection from respiratory diseases, like COVID-19, is fairly high on cruise ships – a fact highlighted by the Diamond Princess incident. Airlines are also suffering from passenger uncertainty, even though the risk of infection on an aeroplane is quite low due to how air is circulated and filtered.
Cruise lines have increased their health and safety precautions since the outbreak of the virus, greatly improving the safety of passengers, but be sure to check directly with the cruise line if you have any concerns. Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have suspended flights or revised their schedules to and from high-risk countries. If you’re due to travel on an affected route, keep up to date with the latest information from your travel company or airline.
If you have any queries regarding your hoppa booking, you can reach our team on http://talktous.hoppa.com by creating a ticket, or give us a call on +44 014 8380 4803, which is available 24/7. If you are currently in a resort, you can also try calling the numbers provided on your eticket.
For even greater peace of mind, hoppa are offering free cancellation on any transfers cancelled 48hrs before travel. This means even if the situation changes, you're protected and have complete flexibility over your travel plans.
Feeling unwell? When to worry…
If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, don’t panic. While researchers are still learning about the new virus, it’s clear that most infected people do not get seriously ill. As many as 80% of people have such minor symptoms that they don’t require medical care at all.
Senior citizens and/or people with underlying medical conditions, such as cardiovascular or lung disease, cancer, or diabetes, are the most at-risk and may require hospitalisation if infected – possibly even intensive care.
If you are worried that you might have the coronavirus, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu. If you’ve had contact with known coronavirus patients, take extra safety precautions over the following 14 days, which is the length of incubation of the virus.
Phone your doctor before you go in to seek medical treatment to limit the number of other people you expose to the virus. What your doctor recommends you do will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Shortness of breath, an unremitting fever, or extreme weakness will require medical attention, in which case you will be referred to an appropriate medical centre or hospital.
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