How to navigate your travel plans during a worldwide pandemic
It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues. The coronavirus has spread to at least 157 countries worldwide prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) has just declared the Covid-19 coronavirus a pandemic. Administrations around the world are taking urgent and aggressive efforts to get adapt to the ongoing situation. And toilet paper has somehow become the hot new currency everyone’s making memes about.
In the travel industry, we’ve seen guests hold off on holidays as well as requests for long stays. We try to answer some of the more pressing travel questions below.
What is this virus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that originate from animals that can also infect humans. Other strains of this virus also include Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The Covid-19 first surfaced in late December in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are very similar to the common flu such as colds, aches and pains, chills that come and go, cough, fever and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to lung lesions, pneumonia and organ failure. Some may also exhibit gastrointestinal problems and diarrhoea.
Most cases are mild with little to no symptoms showing. Symptoms may appear within 14 days after exposure prompting a 2-week quarantine period.
How dangerous is the virus?
As yet there is no vaccine against Covid-19. Existing antiviral drugs that work against the common flu does not work. So far, many who have succumbed to this novel coronavirus was already in poor health or have underlying issues. Most cases are mild with little to no symptoms.
That being said, more than half the total people who have been infected have made full recoveries.
How can we prevent infection?
You can protect yourself from catching Covid-19 the same way you would against any other virus. General flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Additionally, avoid close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing. Who recommends keeping a distance of 3 feet (1 metre) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
When eating, be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs.
Who is impacted?
Well, everyone. This map shows real-time data of rising numbers around the world. While China’s numbers have stabilised, South Korea, Iran and Italy are seeing sharp uptakes in both infected cases and deaths.
Other areas in Europe and the USA have also seen a rise in infections prompting the Trump administration to suspend most flights from Europe for 30 days effective midnight, 13 March 2020.
How is the travel industry responding?
Many countries have set up travel advisories leading airlines and cruises to cancel their routes. Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amidst warnings from the World Health Organization. Flights to Milan and South Korea have also been reduced following the outbreak there.
As the situation continues to evolve rapidly, many airlines and properties have taken on a wait and see approach. Some may be offering credits whilst others are waiving change and cancellation fees. The travel industry will continue to monitor the situation and travellers should contact your hotel or airlines for more information.
Are airports and aeroplanes safe?
Airlines are stepping up their cleaning game with potent cleaning and antiviral solutions used to sanitize.
Should you cancel your trip?
Countries around the world are issuing new measures ranging from travel restrictions to lockdowns and self-imposed social distancing as efforts to flatten the curve. Most commercial airlines have reduced or suspended routes to and from epidemic areas as well as an overall reduction due to fewer travellers in general.
In addition to travel restrictions, travellers returning from affected areas are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and follow their country’s national protocols — which may include self-quarantine for the incubation period.
While the travel industry adapts to the situation, many airlines are offering flexibility when it comes to changing dates. Accommodations are also relaxing their cancellation policies or offering stipulated credit over a period of time. As the situation changes on a daily basis, it is best to check with your provider to ensure you are making informed decisions that are best for your situation.