You ask, we answer. We have been getting a lot of queries on travelling during the current scare around Coronavirus. We will be answering your questions here and keep adding to this Q&A. Send in your queries on [email protected]
Note: due to the quantum of queries we will not be able to address all the questions, but we will be hubbing the major ones. By Team T+L
Please note this is not a comprehensive source. If you are planning travel, please consult the website of the World Health Organization and the Ministry for Health in India which are issuing regular updates and advisories.
1- Should I be traveling or not?
You may have to evaluate the decision on a day to day basis information/updates on the travel destination. It’s best to stay updated using credible sources of information such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, official sources of information in India as well as your destination. It is best to follow travel advisories for destinations which have seen a rise in incidence of the Coronavirus.
2- What precautions should I take?
It’s important to take care of hand hygiene, specially after a handshake or respiratory secretions. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with some alcohol-based rubs. Always cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue while sneezing and coughing, and dispose the tissue immediately. Avoid touching mouth and nose directly. Wearing a mask is not mandatory, as there is no evidence yet that it can protect you from the disease. However, if you are still wearing, be careful of the hygiene while removing and disposing it, and remember to wash your hands.
3- What if I am returning from the affected areas?
If you are returning from any of the affected areas, make sure to self-monitor for at least 14 days. Also, it’s advised to strictly follow national protocols of the receiving countries, which could even mean being quarantined. In case you notice any symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, immediately contact the local health care providers and inform them of your symptoms and travel history.
4- Should I cancel my travel or avoid crowded places?
WHO doesn’t recommend cancelling your travel, unless you are already sick, have any chronic diseases or any other health conditions. However elderly travellers should avoid as much as possible. The organisation also says that it’s completely safe to travel as long as you take into account restrictions imposed by a particular airline. Similarly, one needs to practice proper health hygiene in the plane cabin as well, which includes coughing and sneezing etiquettes, and maintaining a distance.
5- Anything particular that I should pack?
Face masks can act as a barrier against droplets from coughing and sneezing, or touching yourself while scratching. Hand sanitisers with 60 to 90 per cent alcohol content, and antiseptic wipes are a must, specially after using bathroom. Forget the hand towel, or cloth tissue and switch to disposable tissues, so that you can get rid of them after sneezing or coughing.
6- Will I get my money back if I cancel my flight or hotel bookings?
Most airlines are waiving change fees for bookings to affected areas. While some are providing one fee-free change from mid or end March till January next year, others are offering temporary travel waivers to few countries. Although hotels generally don’t give full refunds for last-minute cancelations, unless it’s in infected areas, but most hotels in China are waiving off cancellation and re-booking charges.