What to do and how to best deal with upcoming travel plans when it comes to the corona virus (Covid-19) and subsequent possible travel disruption.
As we know, this particular strain of the corona virus (covid19) has gripped China, Korea, Iran and parts of Northern Italy being most affected. Should you have any plans to visit these destinations in the coming days, weeks and even months ahead, the advice is simply not to travel.
Irish nationals who have made a travel booking months before the outbreak of the corona virus (covid-19), or are indeed even considering traveling at some stage in the future should refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs website https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/coronavirus/ for latest updates and official government travel advice. Similar nationalities should refer to their government.
For example citizens of the United States should refer to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
UK citizens should check: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Australian nationals: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/news-and-updates/coronavirus-covid-19
and citizens of Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/
Other useful websites include Centre for Disease Control (U.S.A.) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
National Health Service (United Kingdom) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and the official website of the Government of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
Similar to other national government travel advisory bodies, the D.F.A. (Department of Foreign Affairs) issue various levels of security statuses. The most severe being ‘Do Not Travel’, followed closely in second place ‘Avoid Non-Essential Travel’, third being ‘Exercise a High Degree of Caution’ finally ‘Normal Precautions’.
Travel Insurance – Where do I stand?
It is important travel insurance is taken out when booking a holiday / vacation. Taking out travel insurance sometime after you have booked your trip is risky as situations may arise between the time you book your travel to the time you book your insurance, thus invalidating your travel insurance policy. It’s akin to taking out car insurance after you had a car accident. Worth also bearing in mind is normally, if you are book a self-catering holiday, then usually, you are only covered for self-catering, likewise with half board, full board or all-inclusive bookings. It is therefore best to hang onto all receipts you deem were incurred as additional costs while outside your control.
In addition, worth bearing in mind that you can, in some cases recoup airport taxes, airline fees and fuel surcharges from the airline should you decide not to travel. The airline, may in some instances, charge a fee to process the refund. Worth looking into! When booking a flight and hotel separately, sometimes it best to book a hotel with free cancellation and not book a non refundable rate. Most reputable sites, such as ours offer a Book Now Pay Later option on most hotel rates which falls usually due a week before arrival giving you adequate time to change your mind.
Am I covered for the corona virus (covid-19)?
Travel insurance policies differ from one to the next and it all depends whether or not your policy includes travel disruption, flight cancellation and such. Always check the small print to see what exactly you are covered for, prior to purchasing travel insurance. Some travel insurance policies offer travel disruption as an optional extra, for which an additional premium is charged, others already include it on the policy, while some do not. Normal travel insurance policies do not cover situations such as the corona virus (covid-19). It should be mandatory to include travel disruption in all policies so you are protected regardless. The only way you are protected is if a travel advisory is issued stating ‘Do Not Travel’ or ‘Avoid Non-Essential Travel’ from say, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the first thing you should do is contact the travel agency (either traditional agency or online agency), airline or flight provider or hotel accommodation provider, who will be happy to assist.
Failing that your travel insurance company, and finally should all else fail, your credit or debit card issuer which is usually your bank.
It is important to note, this is not a time for panic, and it is only natural for anxiety levels to be raised a little. This particular strain of the corona virus, (covid-19) may be more contagious than its relative SARS, (which had a 10% fatality rate). It is no-where as near fatality wise, which is currently 2%. Indeed, most cases which stand at 84% are mild, 10% moderate and 6% critical.
If you have returned from an infected region and find yourself coming down with flu-like symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Please do not attend your local doctor, hospital or indeed pharmacy. It is best to either telephone your doctor or the local or national number assigned to your area or Country. Due to the corona virus (covid-19) being more detrimental to those suffering from underlying health conditions and older people, it not highly advised to follow the guidance of your health professional which is to self – quarantine for a period of fourteen days. Should your health deteriorate somewhat, you may be moved to a specialist hospital unit which will provide more intense medical care and support.
Scrub-a -Dub -Dub
With any illness, preventive is safer than cure. So, it is important to wash your hands often, lather your hands with soap and hot water while singing the birthday song twice. I prefer to sing a few bars from the Bobby McFerrin song ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’. It’s also good to have a good cough etiquette, coughing into a tissue and disposing the tissue in a proper fashion. Should you not have a tissue, cough into your elbow in the opposite direction of the person you may be facing. Eating a healthy diet packed full of essential vitamins and minerals is also advised to boost your immune system. Remember some germs are actually good for your health.
Mask Protection – Do they work?
Don’t fret over not having a face mask, since masks are really only useful should you or someone else have the virus, since it protects the person near the infected mask wearer from airborne droplets should the mask wearer cough. Wearing a mask for too long risks the mask becoming itself a vehicle to carry the corona virus (covid-19) germs. We should also bear in mind, due to the current shortage of masks, they should be spared as to create a steady supply which can be used by medical professionals who need them most.
Best also to avoid fake news, the good news is corona virus (covid-19) cases are down in China as they have contained it as best they could, maybe not initially as they should have right from the very start of the outbreak, truth be told, but better late than never. The bigger risk is it has now spread outside of China as I write this piece on March 4th, 2020, so it has yet to peak on a global level. Once the weather improves and it gets a little warmer, the virus should weaken somewhat.
They say 90% of worry is un-necessary and it is only natural to worry, but don’t worry too much. Even though there is little known about this particular virus….is it man made or evolved organically? Who knows? The thing is too much worry is actually bad for your mental and physical health. You know, we have all been down many roads before when it comes to situations such as Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Foot and Mouth Disease, even natural disasters such as Tsunami’s, Earthquakes, Volcano Eruptions, Forest and Bush Fires. Not to mention, Civil Unrest and Terrorist Attacks. Planet Earth will keep spinning and the clocks will keep ticking, so in the words of World Health Organization: ‘Be alert not alarmed’, or as Bobby Mc Ferrin sang: Don’t worry – be happy!
Declan Hughes C.E.O. www.FlyCruiseStay.com