Protect Yourself from COVID-19 while Traveling.

In December 2019, a new coronavirus was first encountered in Wuhan, China. It is now named as COVID-19 as it was announced last February 11. Currently it has affected more than 80,000 individuals around the world, causing more than 2,700 deaths. It is understandable that given, COVID-19 is a new disease, it is causing a lot of distress, anxiety, confusion, stereotyping and fear among people because of its emergence and fast spread.

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. The said virus can cause Pneumonia and antibiotics are of no use, not even the antiviral drugs that we have for the common flu. Scientists, researchers and drug companies are doing their best to develop and test vaccines and treatments. But since this is a new virus, they are basically starting from scratch so the process may take a longer time.

Question now is, how do travelers protect themselves from this new Coronavirus? Fears of the COVID-19 are provoking passengers to rethink and cancel their travels as most airlines are offering waivers for those with tickets flying in affected countries. The spread of the disease is mainly contributed by air travel and it's spreading like wildfire. Different countries have already imposed travel bans on flights going to and from China and other highly affected countries. Reports advised that as of February 25, South Korea has 977 cases, Japan has 190, and Singapore has 90. Outside of Asia, Italy and Iran have the most cases of 283 and 95 respectively, followed by the US with 53 cases and Germany with 16 cases. Italy has placed 12 towns under lock down to contain the outbreak. The CDC and state department have issued travel advisories for China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Hong Kong. China and South Korea are currently "Level 3" advisories (meaning US residents should avoid all nonessential travel); Japan, Italy, and Iran are "Level 2" (meaning travelers should practice enhanced precautions); and Hong Kong is "Level 1" (suggesting visitors take usual precautions).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC has recommended safety precautions on how you can protect yourself while traveling. See the list below.

1. Everyone should avoid nonessential travel to China. If you must travel to this country, the CDC encourages you to first discuss it with your Doctor.

2. Travelers should try to avoid contact with people who display symptoms similar to those of pneumonia or the common cold, such as coughing or runny noses.

3. Travelers should wash their hands frequently with soap and water, making sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

4. If you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty of breathing, seek medical care right away. Do not travel while sick.

6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

7. Travelers in any part of the world should steer clear of markets that sell live animals.

Wearing a mask isn't particularly helpful, according to Eric Toner, a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University "But wearing masks, except in the situation of a healthcare provider, has never been shown to be a very effective way to protect yourself from infectious diseases."

The best defense against diseases like this new virus is to have a strong immune system. For you to have a lively immune system, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, stay well hydrated, exercise regularly and get enough dose of your Vitamin C.

But best advice during this chaos is to refrain yourself in the meantime from traveling specially to countries who are on alert advisories. All these I'm sure will settle in time and we can go back comfortably to our traveling adventures. While waiting, keep safe and follow the precautions and prevention advises from our Health experts.