With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak causing havoc in China and overtaking news headlines worldwide, many with upcoming travel plans are scared, confused and wondering...should we travel?
Deciding whether or not to travel is a personal choice and should be made calmly and rationally, based on facts rather than media hype. Researching your destination and paying close attention to restrictions around Coronavirus will help inform decision-making.
World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says "...we're not just fighting an epidemic, we're fighting an infodemic...This is a time for facts, not fear. This is a time for rationality, not rumours".
Before making the big decision on whether or not to travel, ask yourself what you are most afraid of.
Is it becoming ill? Is it death? Is it facing problems gaining re-entry into your home country?
A recent survey conducted by Kooshy Kids on Instagram, found that 53% were considering changing their upcoming travel plans due to fears of the virus, and of these 74% were most afraid of becoming ill as opposed to dying, so firstly I will address the classic symptoms of Coronavirus.
HOW SICK WILL I GET IF I CONTRACT CORONAVIRUS?
For those worried about contracting the virus and falling ill whilst away, it is important to remember that the majority of infected people have experienced only mild, cold-like symptoms and many have no symptoms at all.
In more severe cases, (seen mostly in the elderly) symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In the most severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and breathing difficulties.
WHAT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS IN CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN?
There are relatively few cases reported in children and those who have become infected experience more mild symptoms than adults. Pregnant women do not appear to be at risk of complications if they contract the virus. In a small study conducted in Wuhan, China, infants born from mothers with Coronavirus had no traces of the virus in the amniotic fluid, cord blood or breastmilk.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF DYING IF I CONTRACT CORONAVIRUS?
The fatality rate of those with a confirmed case outside of China it is 0.7%.
The probability of dying or being critically ill once infected increases with age, with the highest risk being in those aged 80+ and/or with a pre-existing medical condition.
Those aged 80+ have a 14.8% chance of dying once contracting Coronavirus, whilst those aged 49 years and under, have a 0.2% chance.
As at 1/3/2020, there have been NO reported fatalities of children aged 0-9 years.
Those with Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Chronic Respiratory Disease and Hypertension have a higher risk of death by Coronavirus.
It is important to be aware that that Influenza (aka "the flu") kills 2000-3000 Australians every year.
People with the highest risk of exposure to Coronavirus are those in China or those who have travelled there recently.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued travel warnings for a growing number of countries hit by the virus, China and Iran are currently the only countries with a Level 4 “do not travel” warning in place.
A number of other countries, including South Korea, Italy, Mongolia and Japan, have been issued with Level 2 warnings by DFAT, warning travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution”.
HOW CAN I MINIMISE MY RISK OF CONTRACTING CORONAVIRUS?
- If you come into contact with any animals or animal products, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have thoroughly sanitised your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
- Avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact), especially if they are sick
- Read '10 Ways to Avoid Catching a Virus on the Plane'
- Monitor your health closely. If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath), you should arrange to see a doctor for an urgent assessment
- Follow the advice of local authorities
- Contact your airline or travel company for information about changes to flight services
- You do not need to wear a face mask if you are well, however, if you are travelling in an affected country, you must follow the advice of local authorities.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE I TRAVEL?
- Talk to your doctor before travelling with young children, babies or an elderly person; if you are pregnant; if you have a weak immune system, or have a chronic medical condition.
- Read the travel advice for your destination. It is being updated regularly.
- Check with your travel agent, airline, cruise operator, accommodation provider and travel insurance provider to consider your options regarding any potential changes in services.
- Understand the risks you’re taking and that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 may cause further travel disruptions and restrictions
- Keep the contact details handy for your insurer, airline, travel agent and accommodation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE TO CANCEL MY TRIP?
Travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if your holiday is not directly affected, as most policies do not cover 'fear' or 'changes of mind'.
Also, many insurers exclude cover for epidemics, events present in the mass media and anything that you were aware of that may give rise to a claim at the time of purchase.
Depending on who you are insured with, the type of cover and when you purchased the policy, you may be covered if there is a Level 4 warning to your destination ("Do not travel") and you may be entitled to some compensation if the warning was upgraded after you took out your policy.
If you are considering making changes to your trip, I recommend contacting your insurer and learning about your options.
...SO SHOULD I TRAVEL?
Do your research and don't fall victim to the media's scare tactics.
If you feel that you will spend the entire trip worried, then postpone it. There is nothing worse than spending your hard earned holiday being stressed and unable to fully enjoy yourself. Kooshy Kids is all about stress-free travel, so go with what you feel most comfortable with.
Weigh up the risks, and pros vs cons and regardless of whether you are worried about Coronavirus, always practise good hygiene. Carry hand sanitiser and frequently wash your hands.
I hope that reading this has helped you to make the decision that is best for you and your family.
As always, we wish you safe and happy travels x