The World Health Organization has deemed the recent Coronavirus outbreak to be a public health emergency. Not only is the virus a concern in China, but also internationally. The virus has affected countries such as Thailand, Australia, Germany, the USA and France, with over 1000 deaths.
What does this mean for us? Are we now confined to the safety of our own homes? Are we heading for an apocalyptic disaster? At the moment there is no current cure for the virus. For now, people are recommended to take the necessary precautions and remain aware of the current affairs.
The virus has lead to a lot of confusion surrounding travel. Many travellers are unsure as to which countries are safe and which are off-bounds. This article will help provide a clear answer as to whether it’s safe to travel, and what precautions you should be taking.
What is the Coronavirus?
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The coronavirus isn’t simply one virus, but rather a large family of viruses. Ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the Coronavirus has created worldwide panic.
It is a new respiratory virus which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019. Health officials are in the process of discovering the exact origin of the virus. What they have revealed is that the virus has been transferred from the animal to human species. Some strains of the virus cause illness in people, while other strains circulate between animals such as cats, bats and camels.
Common Signs of the Coronavirus Infection:
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory difficulty
- Sore throat
- A general feeling of being unwell
Is China Safe to Travel to Right Now?
At this point, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that all nonessential travel to China should be avoided. It’s considered to be a warning level 3, with Chinese officials having closed transport within Wuhan and other cities in the Hubei province. This includes international airports and public transport systems, such as buses, subways and trains.
Thousands of cases have been reported by Chinese health officials, and the virus still continues to grow. There have been over 1000 deaths in China alone. Officials are even going as far as to screen travellers who are leaving the country. Those showing any symptoms are to undergo further medical assessments.
The virus has become so widespread in China that streets and supplies have become empty as demand for medical care has increased. There are even makeshift hospitals in conference halls and schools to look after those who’ve contracted the virus.
Overall, is it Safe to Travel?
So far China has been the only country with restricted entry. Travellers are free to travel to any other countries that they please. The only problem that one may encounter when entering a new country, is having been in China within a prior 14 day period.
The US is even going as far as to say that foreign nationals who have been in China over the past 14 days, may not enter.
Before travelling to a country, be aware of how the country has been affected by the virus. There are a few outbreaks of the virus in over 28 countries – but they’re very minimal, and seem to be contained.
No matter where you are planning on travelling to, all travellers should be up to date with their routine vaccinations. It’s a good idea to get vaccinated, because even if the diseases don’t occur in the country that you’re living in, they may be present in foreign countries.
The common flu (influenza) can be even more of a deadly killer than the coronavirus. When travelling, be sure to receive a flu vaccination up to 2 weeks before your trip.
If you are looking forward to a trip to Asia, consider travelling to South-East Asian countries that aren’t so heavily affected.
Travel Updates and Flight Restrictions
Many airline companies from around the world have recently cancelled all flights heading into China. Airlines such as Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, KLM and Delta airlines have suspended all flights into China until the end of February. With some American airlines even cancelling flights to Hong Kong.
If you’re wondering where it is safe to fly, all airlines are currently monitoring the situation in China. Travellers should also contact their airlines to find out if travel to Japan and Singapore travel are still in the clear.
And airlines aren’t the only travel companies holding back arrivals in China. Many cruise lines are refusing to pass over the Chinese region. Some are even going as far as to screen passengers for the virus before coming aboard.
Travel Advice: Standard Recommendations to Prevent the Infection from Spreading
Even though the CBC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China, if you must travel, there are basic travel precautions you should be taking.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of the virus – respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing can be a warning sign
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Wash your hands regularly
- Ensure that you are eating thoroughly cooked foods – when you are travelling and not able to cook your own food, try to avoid eating meat and eggs
- Face masks – the CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear the facemask, but rather people who are displaying symptoms. If you are travelling around China on a plane or public transport, only then, as a precaution from contamination should a facemask be worn
- Avoid animals and markets selling livestock
If you were in China over the last 14 days and begin to feel sick and show symptoms of respiratory infection, you should seek medical care immediately. It’s recommended that you call your doctor ahead of your visit and inform them of your current state.
To Conclude – Is it Safe to Travel to Countries with the Cornovirus Spreading?
What is important to keep in mind is that the virus is not an extreme killer. Older people and those with serious health conditions are at the most risk.
Given the fact that officials have prevented flights into China, and health care professionals are working extremely hard to try to contain the virus, there will hopefully be a solution to this crisis in the near future.
To ensure your travel plans work out, contact your airline company, and monitor updates and alerts of the area.