(Kris is a registered nurse and previous travel health nurse. This is not advice on the virus but basic common cold and flu precautions. Please see a health professional if you feel unwell & stay up-to-date on the WHO website.)
You may have heard by now that there is a new virus in town wreaking havoc on the world and especially China called the Novel (new) Coronavirus.
This article will let you know how to avoid the Coronavirus and protect yourself so that you may stay safe and out of harm’s way.
The travel landscape and industry has taken a massive dive due to the lockdown of China to the rest of the world. China makes up the majority of many tourism industries around the globe, so with the Chinese unable to travel, it will have a huge knock-on effect.
What is the Coronavirus in China?
The Coronavirus is made up of a large group of viruses. These range in many different types and affect the respiratory system or gastrointestinal system.
The Coronavirus gets its name from its molecular structure, which is shaped like a crown. Crown in Latin is Corona!
A normal strain of the Coronavirus can have symptoms ranging from a cough to pneumonia and can vary in severity from mild to severe.
While other strains such as SARS-COV and MERS-COV can cause severe disease. China had the SARS epidemic in 2003 and Saudi Arabia had a MERS-COV in 2012.
What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The main symptoms of Coronavirus are:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
How do you Catch Coronavirus?
The virus is spread through having close contact with an infected person and can pass via droplets from coughs or sneezes. Also touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face or mouth can spread the virus. The virus can live for up to 30 minutes on a surface such as a table or a doorknob.
The Coronavirus is only spread via an asymptomatic carrier. This means that you can only catch Coronavirus from someone who has active Coronavirus with clinical symptoms. (WHO)
How to Prevent the Coronavirus
The prevention of the spread of Novel Coronavirus is exactly the same as seasonal Influenza prevention. Having good hygiene can help stop contracting the Coronavirus. The Australian Government official Health department advice recommends:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and cleaning hands immediately with alcohol gel.
- Avoiding close contact with others. WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends a 1-metre social distancing policy between you and others.
Wearing a surgical mask around is not currently recommended for healthy people unless you are taking care of a person who is infected with Coronavirus.
Masks are very effective in preventing someone who is sick from spreading the virus.
For the latest rules and advice on surgical mask use, know when to discard and how to correctly replace masks, read this helpful article from WHO.
Protect yourself and others around you by:
- Seek medical care early if you have any respiratory symptoms, or come into close contact with at ‘at-risk’ person
Coronavirus and Travel
Unless you were planning a trip to Wuhan, the epicentre for the Coronavirus outbreak, you do not need to cancel your travel plans just yet. You do need to take into consideration the extra restrictions and possible quarantining that are imposed by airlines of certain countries though.
The virus can live on surfaces for a short amount of time, (only about 30 minutes!) and is spread otherwise via droplets from an infected person. Just because you are spending time in an aeroplane cabin with a person who is coughing several rows away does not mean you will catch Coronavirus.
The virus is not airborne, it can only be transmitted via ingesting or inhaling the droplet mucus of an infected person such as from a sneeze or cough, or a surface.
The airconditioning system on an aeroplane is such that the virus will not spread around through the air. The air is refreshed not just recirculated. And the virus is not airborne. This is an important fact.
On planes, the best thing you can do is practice good hand hygiene, washing hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol rub. It is wise to avoid sitting beside someone who is displaying respiratory symptoms such as sneezing or coughing. In this instance, notify cabin crew and they will isolate the symptomatic passenger.
In hotel rooms, ensure good hand hygiene is maintained with frequent handwashing.
Can I Still Travel with Coronavirus out there?
Yes, you can. Take into account updated travel restrictions to some Asian countries. And also consider the way individual airlines may have reduced or suspended certain flights.
The bottom line is, tourism industries around the world desperately need this to blow over soon. In the meantime, hotels are empty. Restaurants are empty. Tour boats have no tourists. Fear is driving a lot of travellers to simply not travel. But with proper precautions, you will be safe.
What is the Treatment for Coronavirus?
Currently, there is no specific medication available because scientists are quickly trying to develop a vaccine against the virus.
At the moment until a vaccine has been developed basic supportive care is number one to help infected people.
Make sure you share your travel history with your GP upon your consultation.
The best method to use is to avoid contracting the virus in the first place. This can be achieved by not traveling around the world. Also using the basic flu and cold prevention techniques.
Stay safe out there and always keep your eye on the ever-changing advice from doctors and the World Health Organisation.
No one as of yet knows how bad the spread of Corona is going to be or if it will stay as is and not develop into something worse.
Let’s hope that it can be contained and that the onset of the warmer months will lessen the cases and spread of Corona Virus.
Hopefully, a vaccine is developed for the world to keep us all safe.
For other health tips when traveling with kids visit here.