Travel and coronavirus: everything you need to know
We have 4 pieces of advice…
Viviane Vaz for Id International
27 Feb 2020
(Updated 24 Mar 2020)
The world is upside down due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Travellers and event participants around the globe had to stop their activities, enter in quarantine and some are still trying to go back home. If you still need to travel and worry about travel issues, we have four suggestions for you: contact your travel agent, consult your doctor, take preventive measures and keep calm.
1. Contact your travel professional
Licensed travel professionals receive daily updates on several issues related to travel from international organizations, governmental institutions, besides transport and insurance companies. So, they are prepared to give you serious advice and help you deciding.
In February, most governments, including the Belgian one, recommended citizens to avoid nonessential travels. Now most governments are closing borders and requesting its citizens to enter quarantine until the coronavirus outbreak is under control. Some passengers are still trying to go back home. Since the situation is changing day by day, get travel advice if you still need to return to your country or if you can still travel for emergency matters.
-> Can I cancel my travel free of charge?
If you have a trip booked to an affected destination, your rights depend on the airline chosen and the insurance policy agreed.
Belgian travellers can get travel cancellations free of charge if a negative advice from the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been issued and you have purchased your ticket before coronavirus outbreak was a known situation. Otherwise normal cancellation conditions will be applied. Some companies are doing commercial gestures and allowing you to postpone your trip free of charge.
2. Consult your doctor
Even if you have a healthy and strong immune system and you feel you can still travel, be aware you may face screening on arrival, suffer entry restrictions or even be quarantined.
Consider postponing nonessential travel. A weak immune system is more bound to get infected and strive against the virus. If you are in doubt about your physical condition, consult your doctor.
Moreover, if you want to improve your health, why not take this moment to ask advice from your doctor to start a physical activity and from a nutritionist to get a balanced diet?
3. Prevention tips
-> What can I do to avoid getting sick?
Boost your immune system, keep a strong mind, body and soul. Eat healthy, exercise and keep good hygiene practices, especially these ones recommended by the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects using a regular cleaning spray or wipe.
Stay home when you are sick.
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.
-> Should I use a facemask?
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. Health workers and people who are taking care of someone at home or in a health care facility should also use facemasks.
4. Keep calm
The Spanish doctor Pau Mateo is now based in Pavia, where some Italian patients are being treated from coronavirus. Interviewed by several Spanish media, he explained the symptoms of the majority of those affected resemble those of a cold or a flu.
“Of course we should not underestimate what is happening, but keep calm and have common sense,” advised Pau.
In two press conferences (on January 29 and on February 10), the World Health Organization (WHO) said the estimated coronavirus mortality rate is 2%. Pau highlights that people who are dying are sick with previous pathologies: “People with COPD, people who have a very uncontrolled asthma, who have immunodeficiencies…”
So, let’s do our share and keep calm. It’s is also good for our immune system!