Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Since reports of the coronavirus surfaced in late December 2019, over 25,000,000 people have been infected around the world. As the virus continues to have a global impact, the countries around the world have established travel advisories and rules, leading airlines and cruises to cancel their routes.
The United States has reported more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world at nearly 6,000,000. The virus, which originated in China, made its way to the U.S. in February. As precautions including states of emergency, and lockdowns were put in place across the country, the State Department has advised Americans to avoid all international travel. And states have also implemented their own travel rules and restrictions when it comes to traveling within the country.
China, which was the origin of the outbreak at the beginning of the year, has seen signs of relief as the number of reported cases has slowed and their makeshift hospitals have been closing due to lack of demand. Additionally, the strict lockdown on Wuhan and the Hubei Province has lifted.
In Europe, Spain, Italy, and France have eased their restrictions, allowing non-essential employees to go to work and the European Commission has lifted restrictions for internal borders. For citizens of the EU, each country has implemented certain protocols when it comes to traveling internally.
The Caribbean islands also begun reopening for both locals and tourists alike.
Here is everything you need to know about traveling right now.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, within the Hubei province of China. WHO announced on Feb. 12 that the official name for the specific strain of coronavirus is COVID-19.
In the beginning of March, WHO officially declared the coronavirus as "a pandemic."
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tourists wear masks at Don Mueang Airport, in Bangkok, Thailand/GETTY IMAGES
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The CDC has continually updated a list of symptoms that currently include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
The CDC says an individual will experience symptoms 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus.
“You'll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University. Elderly people or those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the virus.
What can you do to prevent coronavirus?
Wearing a mask and general flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Extra measures include sanitizing commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or sprays. Also, avoid touching your face and close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.
The CDC along with many airlines and government agencies strongly encourages everyone to wear masks or face coverings whenever in public, and especially in areas where maintaining social distance may be difficult. Businesses from retail shops to theme parks have also made it mandatory for guests to wear a face covering.
Additionally while traveling, the TSA has allowed passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag until further notice, according to their website.
"Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience," the update read.
As a first step in planning any trip, check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time. To receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts, choose the method that works best for you at travel.state.gov/stayingconnected
As always your Olsen-O'Leary Travel Consultant is happy to help and take the stress out of planning, especially with navigating policies and procedures in this new normal.
Call us today with any travel questions or concerns!