As coronavirus cases increase across the globe causing severe disruptions to daily life, the tourism industry has been among the hardest-hit sectors. Cruise lines, airlines and hotels airlines see demand plummet as travellers are on high alert. The sharp spread of COVID-19 across the globe has thrown the international travel industry into chaos. Increasing numbers of travellers are choosing to stay home amid fear of exposure to coronavirus. The virus has spread to 79 countries since late December, claiming more than 3,000 lives and infecting more than 100,000 people globally.
Should You Cancel Your Travel Plans?
Public health experts are of the opinion that canceling or postponing your travel plans depends on several factors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that elderly travellers and those with underlying health conditions should delay or avoid travelling to areas that are experiencing ongoing transmission of COVID-19. This arises from the fact that the disease, while mild in some 80 percent of cases, can be fatal for people who are above 65 years or who have chronic illnesses.
Countries Experiencing Local Transmission:
The WHO daily updates the list of countries experiencing local transmissions. In Asia, it currently includes China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
The European countries on the list include Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Finland, Romania and Greece
The three countries in the Middle East that appear on the list are – Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon.
In the Americas, the United States have reported fatal cases of COVID-19 infections. Canada and Ecuador have also reported Coronavirus transmissions.
Algeria is the only African country on the list although there are reports of Covid-19 cases in South Africa, Cameroun, Togo, and Nigeria. Australia in the Oceania region is also on the list.
Government of different countries have also put out their own travel warnings. If you decide to travel, even if you are going to destinations without major cases, you should consider your own risk factors and the quality of healthcare available in the region you are travelling to, if you become ill.
Another factor to keep in mind is that you may be quarantined if an outbreak occurs. Travellers may also find themselves with fewer reasons to venture far from home, as scores of tourist attractions have been shuttered and major events called off, ranging from the Muslim pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, to the pop group BTS’s tour of South Korea.
How to Stay Safe When Travelling:
If you proceed with your travel plans, the WHO has a range of recommendations to reduce the risk of infection. They include washing hands frequently, covering nose and mouth when coughing, and avoiding close contact with people exhibiting symptoms.
If you do show symptoms of illness while travelling, such as fever, coughing or breathing difficulties, the WHO recommends that you contact your local health providers by phone and inform them of your travel history.
Travellers should carry and regularly use hand sanitizer while keeping a distance of two meters from others where possible.
Generally, to be on the safe side, observe the following:
- Check government websites and set notification alerts.
- Reach out to your hotline and email your hotel.
- Communicate with your Travel Advisor if you are booking a trip through a Travel Advisor.
- Double-check your travel insurance policy.
- Follow general health precautions at home and abroad.
Every traveller is different and should make decisions based on who they are, where they are going, their age and their health history. Don’t be afraid to travel. The travel industry has proven itself to be quite resilient and will overcome this current crisis.