Categories: Coronavirus

COVID-19 And Travelling: How to Reduce the Risk of Infection During Travel?

The Coronavirus outbreak has taken a hit on travelling over the last couple of months. With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, people are cancelling booked trips and are being cautioned by health officials to limit all non essential travel.

But what do you do if it’s an urgent international or domestic trip that is unavoidable. If you’ve to travel during this outbreak, how can you protect yourself from the coronavirus? Read on to find out.

Can you really travel without any risks during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Unfortunately, it’s not completely safe or risk-free to travel during the Coronavirus outbreak regardless of your age, health or the country you’re visiting. Although the mortality rate of people affected with the COVID-19 appears to be quite low, it’s recommended to avoid travelling as much as possible to prevent any chances of infection. That’s because people may return from a trip without any symptoms of the coronavirus or health issues, but they may still be infected and spread the virus to others. The following are some of the things to consider before you travel.

Age: People who are more likely to be affected by the complications of the Coronavirus disease are those over the age of eighty. However, individuals who fall in the age group of 10-39 have been found to show relatively low mortality rates, i.e. 0.2 per cent approximately. That still doesn’t ensure that younger children and adults have a lower chance of infection, only that the disease won’t turn fatal for them. If they show any symptoms of the disease, they must isolate themselves from others as they may be spreading the virus around otherwise.

Medical history: People with underlying medical conditions are also more prone to becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus as compared to those who are healthy. If you have any respiratory or cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc. you need to avoid travelling.

The country you’re going to visit: The worldwide cases of the Coronavirus infection have reached 130,000, and the figures are constantly rising as well. A majority of the cases were reported in China, where the virus first originated, but there are other affected zones across the world as well with thousands of reported cases, such as Italy, Iran, and South Korea. Therefore, as a precaution, the CDC has issued a warning against travelling to these countries, unless it’s extremely urgent. This does not imply that it’s safe to travel to countries with a relatively smaller number of reported cases. Moreover, if you’re returning from a high-risk country, you’ll have to go into self-quarantine even if you’re not infected.

Should you rethink your travel plans during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Countries worldwide are taking active measures to prevent the spreading of virus and protecting their citizens from it. Several countries have also banned entry or lifted visa exemptions for people travelling from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran. Many regions and states of the U.S. have closed their schools in the midst of the outbreak, and Italy has been quarantined entirely until April. So, while Coronavirus is still actively spreading, your travel plans are likely to be affected.

The novel Coronavirus is relatively new, and many things are yet unknown about the virus. So, health officials are putting in constant efforts to warn people to avoid making non-essential travel to affected areas and stay away from public gatherings. People who are staying in an affected zone are recommended to stay at home as much as possible.

However, if the trip is essential or you are travelling to a low-risk location, you need to make sure that you are ready with all the necessary measures to protect yourself as well as others.

Keeping yourself safe from Coronavirus during your travels

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you need to follow certain rules and precautions to keep yourself safe if you travel during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wash your hands frequently: This is undoubtedly the most important thing that you can do to minimise your chances of contracting the Coronavirus disease. Make sure that it’s not just a quick rinse with soap and water. You need to wash your hands for at least twenty to thirty seconds whenever you get a chance, especially after accessing public spaces or if you have taken a mode of public transport. If you took the flight to a place, wash your hands after leaving the airport.

Always keep a hand sanitiser gel with you. In case you don’t get access to soap and water, you put a few drops of the sanitiser gel and rub it on your hands and wrists. It is recommended to use a sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol content. Make sure to clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Remember to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands: Avoid touching your face unless you haven’t thoroughly cleaned your hands and especially when you have been in a public place. It has been found that the novel coronavirus can stay on surfaces for hours after it has been touched by an infected person. It can easily spread to someone who comes in contact with the object through their mouth, nose and eyes.

Keep your distance: The symptoms of coronavirus disease are similar to that of common flu or cold. So, if you see someone is coughing, sneezing or has any common signs of flu, try to stay at least three feet away from that person. It’s possible to contract the virus through respiratory droplets by cough or sneeze.

Stay in a place with good hygiene and cleanliness: If you have to stay in a hotel during your travel, book a trusted place where you know hygiene and cleanliness is maintained. It’s always better to check-in with the hotel staff and management to ensure your room is thoroughly cleaned. You can also sweep frequently-touched objects with a disinfectant or cleaning spray yourself.

Avoid crowds: Crowds are the worst place to be during the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re travelling to a place with a large number of Coronavirus cases, stay away from any place with a lot of people.

Research about the Coronavirus outbreak in the country you are visiting: Whenever you’re visiting a place, check what the health and government officials are advising in the country and do exactly what is said. Usually, the rules to protect yourself from the virus are the same wherever you go.

Wear a mask and seek medical help if you develop symptoms: If you develop the symptoms of the COVID-19, wear a mask so that you don’t further spread the virus and infect other people. Isolate yourself and seek medical help immediately.

Dr. Satish Koul | Senior Consultant & Director Internal Medicine | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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