*updated March 16th, 2020
Update 16th March 2020With the recent dramatic measures by many countries, e.g. closing of borders, asking people to self isolate once they reach the country (as it is the case in New Zealand), it is really not in the individuals hand to make a decision whether or not they want to travel or not. My brother-in-law had to postpone his trip to NZ for instance because he can't stay in a hotel room for two weeks to self-isolate, can he? I do hope the whole situation will ease in the next few months, so fingers crossed. The information in this post provided is still valid as far as I am aware. Keep calm and stay positive!
My family and I are in the process of organizing everything for our upcoming trip to Asia and Europe in October this year but with the recent outbreak of a new strain of the “Coronavirus”, people have been asking if we are still going ahead with our travel plans.
The business and the travel world are quite in a bit of turmoil at the moment with flights to China being canceled, entire towns and regions being cut off from the outside world in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading globally.
So I thought, I would research the recent information available to the public to see if it is still safe to travel with your children.
This post will be an ongoing one with regular updates as the situation evolves over time.
I always like to make an informed decision and to avoid panic it is best to put as many facts and data together as possible.
New information regarding the coronavirus COVID-19 emerge nearly every day so I am trying to keep this post as updated on a regular basis.
Before I get started, I would also like to point out that I feel for the people that have been affected by the virus, especially in China where nearly 80 000 people have been diagnosed with the virus.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a doctor or a nurse. Please use this post as a guide only and follow up with your own research if necessary.
My conclusion is based on my research, my life experience, and personal world view.
It is important for me to stay calm and I hope this post helps people to gain a better understanding of the virus. Panic doesn’t help anyone!
Coronavirus – Is It Still Safe To Travel With Your Kids?
What Is The Coronavirus?
According to the WHO, “the coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).”
This new coronavirus which as been discovered first in the Wuhan region in China at the end of December 2019 is called COVID-19. Because it is a new strain that hasn’t been detected in humans before it is called a novel coronavirus.
On January 30, 2020, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern by the WHO.
What Are The Symptoms?
Common symptoms are very similar to a cold or flu with respiratory symptoms such as being short of breath, breathing difficulties, fever, and a cough.
In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.
At the moment, there is no vaccine available or a particular treatment.
How Dangerous Is The Coronavirus?
It looks like older people are most at risk to develop more serious symptoms as well as people with chronic medical conditions.
Children seem to get milder symptoms.” Only about 100 cases in children have been reported worldwide. […] Right now, measles and the flu are bigger problems for children than the coronavirus.” [Read more here]
Here is a statistic I have found on arstechnica.com about what age group is most at risk of getting critically ill or dying: “In the group of 44,672 cases discussed above, the highest fatality rates were among those aged 60 and above. People aged 60 to 69 had a fatality rate of 3.6 percent. The 70 to 79 age group had a fatality rate of about 8 percent, and those 80 or older had a fatality rate of nearly 15 percent.”
It also seems that men are more at risk than women and children, as discussed above, only get mild symptoms.
How Does The Coronavirus Spread?
Here is what experts have found: the virus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets e.g. an infected person sneezes or coughs and the droplets are being inhaled by another person.
It is not clear yet if a person can get infected by touching a surface that has the virus on it, and touches his/her mouth or nose. For further reading, please click here.
How Can You Prevent To Be Infected By The Coronavirus?
The safety measurements you can take to prevent infection are as follows:
- wash your hands frequently and thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) and dry them after washing
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water
- avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth if you haven’t washed your hands
- cough and sneeze into your elbow
- dispose of used tissues immediately
- don’t eat raw or undercooked meat and eggs
- the WHO doesn’t advise to wear masks to avoid infection – only people who are infected should wear them [read more here]
What Countries Have Been Affected By The Coronavirus?
The screenshot shows how the coronavirus has spread in the past few months. South Korea is the second most affected country followed by Italy, Japan and Japan.
To avoid further spreading of the virus, here are some of the measurements that countries have been taken:
- The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued a travel advisory level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ for China
- The CDC (US Center for Disease Control and Prevention) warned older or at-risk travelers to avoid nonessential travel to South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and China
- Hongkong closed Disneyworld
- The Venice Carnival was cut short and other events were canceled
- Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios in Osaka are closed for now
- Berlin has canceled the ITB tourism fair
- Some Airlines are not providing service to China at the moment
- as of March 9th Italy is in lockdown because of the rapid spread of the virus
What Are The Safety Precautions When Traveling On An Airplane?
Here is what the CDC says: “Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on airplanes. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, travelers should try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contain 60%–95% alcohol.”
Are There Any Countries You Should Avoid Traveling To?
As outlined before, the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued a travel advisory level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ for China and has also advised avoiding non-essential travel to South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan.
Please check with your home country what the government advises to give you a better insight.
Are There Any Things You Should Check Before You Travel?
I would recommend checking with your travel insurance if you are covered in case you get infected by the coronavirus whilst traveling.
Also, touch base with your chosen airline if there are any rules and regulations in place you should be aware of.
As of March 9th, 2020 more than 110 000 people have been infected globally with the Coronavirus. Nearly 4000 deaths have been reported worldwide; over 3000 deaths were in China.
62000 people have recovered from the Coronavirus. [read more in TheGuardian]
Putting Things Into Perspective
While these numbers seem quite high, I feel it is important to put things into perspective.
Quite often the Coronavirus is compared with the seasonal flu because the symptoms are very similar.
Here are some staggering numbers regarding the seasonal flu. The CDC noted that influenza is one of the leading causes of death in the US.
“So far this flu season, the CDC estimates that up to 45 million Americans have been infected, hospitalizing up to 560,000 and killing 46,000.”
So with all infectious diseases/viruses, don’t panic, instead, use your common sense like practicing good personal hygiene, stay at home when you are feeling sick, eat a healthy diet including lots of fruit and vegetables and cut down on processed food.
Bottomline – Is It Still Safe To Travel With Your Children?
Here is a statement (dated 27 February 2020) from the WHO who works closely together with the World Tourism Organization. “WHO did not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.”
At the end of the day, it is up to the individual if they want to go ahead with their travel plans. It is always a good idea to collect as much information as possible and not to panic.
The good news is that children don’t seem to be as much at risk as older people, people with a weak immune system, and with chronic medical conditions.
You may have to adjust your travel itinerary according to the travel advice given out by your country. But in general, I think it is still safe to travel with your children.
It is important to use common sense e.g. stick to good personal hygiene, don’t eat undercooked meat and eggs, and don’t get to close to people who seem to be unwell.
For me personally, my family and I will still go ahead with our travel plans. For now, we have Malaysia/Thailand, the Philippines, Portugal, and Germany on our travel list. As time goes by we may have to change a few things e.g. travel to a different country.
Without a doubt, we won’t be canceling our trip that’s for sure.
Based on the information and facts that are available to the public at this point in time, I have a positive outlook and do hope that the number of infected people will become less and less over time and the outbreak will eventually come to a stop.
What do you think? Have you canceled your next family trip because of the Coronavirus outbreak? Or, are you going ahead with your travel plans? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Finally, if you do find my post helpful, please share it with friends and family.
Safe Travels from Anke