UPDATE! Since this article was posted there have been many changes, travel advisories and recommendations. Please visit the CDC for current updates prior to making any travel arrangements.
To go, or not to go, that is the question. COVID-19 is still spreading around the world, but you had travel plans already in place. What is the right thing to do? The first thing, is not to panic. If you are a relatively healthy adult, even if you get the virus, it will most likely take its course, you will be sick a few days, then fully recover. The key, however, is prevention. The COVID-19 is not an airborne virus (as of this posting). It is a virus that so far is spreading either person to person, or from contact with infected surfaces or objects. This is why it remains so important to not touch your face and wash your hands appropriately (at least 20 seconds of scrubbing).
The COVID-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. If you are too close to someone who is actively coughing or sneezing (it’s best to be 3-6 feet away from the person), then effected respiratory droplets could potentially be inhaled into the lungs of a nearby person. Wearing a mask will help the INFECTED person from spreading their infected spittle. These masks won’t prevent a healthy person from inhaling the virus. They will, however, act as a barrier if you inadvertently touch your face. The type of facial mask that will protect your lungs from inhaling the virus is the NIOSH approved N95 particulate filtering facepiece respirator.
But my plans…
If you already have travel plans in place, you need to visit the World Health Organization website to learn if your place of destination has any travel advisories. Currently, the WHO highly recommends avoiding travel in any location where they are experiencing COVID-19 breakouts. If you learn your destination is on the current list of places with travel advisories, contact the places in which you have reservations. Many places have new COVID-19 policies in place for refunds or postponements. If YOU are the one ill, it would be greatly appreciated if YOU avoided travel, community events, stay home from work and take general appropriate actions to get well. Would YOU want to be held responsible for spreading a virus that could potentially kill someone who has a weakened immune system?
Common sense is powerful. Knowing there is a new virus in which scientists are still learning about is kind of scary. So it has to be up to you to determine if you are safe enough to travel. Meaning, if you have a weakened immune system, if you tend to get sick easily, if you are elderly, if you are undergoing medical treatments for any variety of illnesses, you may want to consider postponing your plans. Only you know your body and its defenses. No one can make that determination for you (other than possibly, your doctor) if you are well enough to travel. If you know your body has difficulties fighting off common illnesses, then perhaps you may want to reconsider your plans until the COVID-19 outbreaks settle down.
After determining your own personal physical health status, visiting the WHO website for updates on travel advisories and being habitual with hand washing and not touching your face, it’s time to make your final decision. If everyone decided to stop traveling, it could turn into an economic disaster for the world. Travel for business and travel must continue during these uncertain times. If you are the one doing the traveling, make it a priority to maintain hygienic practices. As long as your health status isn’t currently compromised, go ahead and take that trip! Albeit, at your own risk.
The WHO cannot ban people from traveling around the world, but I would certainly heed their travel advisories. If you are comfortable traveling during this COVID-19 outbreak, then keep on! Bottom line, there are no guarantees you won’t get it, but if you are consistent with not touching your face, consistent with hand washing (up to a 20 sec scrubbing) and keep good personal distance from those who present as actively ill, you should be fine. With that being said, Happy Travels!!
This author cannot guarantee if you travel, you will not contract COVID-19. But if you have a travel bug in you (the good kind), my post on Travel Planning Sites – The Top 5, may get you started! Stay healthy out there!
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