Coronavirus Questions and more
Just under three months ago, the world’s battle against the coronavirus disease began as on December 31st, China had alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) of several flu-like cases in Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province with a population of 11 million.
On January 7th, the virus was identified as Coronavirus 2019n-CoV (later renamed to COVID-19). It took about two weeks for the novel virus to reach the United States, with the first patient testing positive on January 20th.
The numbers are on the rise and the world authorities agreeably claim that the virus poses a significant global threat as the virus sweeps through all the regions. How does this situation affect your travel plans, and is it necessary to change or cancel these plans altogether? BudgetAir compiled together what the experts know in a bid to shed more light on the outbreak as it unfolds.
What is COVID-19?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines COVID-19 as an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new disease and virus began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
It’s not an entirely new disease - COVID-19 is part of a large family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which cause illnesses in animals and humans. Humans infected with such a virus usually experience respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Those who remember the 2003 SARS outbreak may be understandably worried, but initial estimates show a far lower mortality rate - 3.4% compared to SARS’ 15%. This does not negate its danger, as it has proven more infectious than SARS and MERS, possibly due to its longer incubation period.
I have to be overseas - what can I do to protect myself?
The coronavirus disease has pushed many to postpone or delay holidays, while schools and other institutions are recalling their students and staff from at-risk areas.
In response to coronavirus measures, the U.S. Department of State is advising against all and all but essential travel to some countries, cities and regions. You must check the travel advisory to the country you are traveling to.
However, should you still have to travel, the following measures, supplied by WHO, will go a long way in protecting you from COVID-19:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and another person, especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue and wash your hands immediately.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Avoid traveling if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
- Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
While you’re overseas, this means staying in touch with news in the US and in the country you are visiting. Stick with established news sources - fake news is as real a threat as the virus, and could cause you to make misguided decisions which could backfire in today’s unsteady climate.
Would I get quarantined?
You may not actually be that concerned about getting sick while traveling, but in fact more worried about getting stuck or quarantined in the airport or another country. Don’t get caught out - know what to expect when you touch down at your country of visit, and what to expect when you get back.
The World Health Organization (WHO) website is the best place to check up-to-date information and advice about which countries are at least risk and those which you should definitely avoid.
For more specific travel advisories issued by the US authorities, check the official site of the U.S. State Department.
What kind of measures are being taken by the national authorities?
Various countries have imposed entry restrictions. For the latest entry requirements of any destination you’re traveling to please visit the IATA website. Additionally, some countries perform medical checks for Corona on arrival. These checks can be in the form of filling out a health certificate, a temperature, measurement or quarantine measures.
You may need to get medical advice if you've recently traveled to the US from somewhere with a higher risk of coronavirus.
If you've been to one of these places in the last 14 days, find out what to do using the CDC Coronavirus Guide.
How do I know if my flight is still departing?
Check the website of the airline for the most current status.
What if my flight is still operating but I am no longer allowed to enter my destination?
Whether you may enter a country depends on your personal situation. For example: there are passengers with a Green Card who are allowed to enter the USA. Access to a destination is independent of whether or not a flight is being operated. For change and cancellation policies, we are obligated to follow the terms and conditions of the airlines.
Where to look for more information & support
Please also check our updated FAQs from our Customer Support page for the latest information.
With good personal hygiene, social etiquette and thorough follow-up on official government advice, preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be done without inconvenience or compromising our well-being.
Stay healthy, everyone!
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