What to do when a contagious disease breaks out in an area you’d like to visit?This is a question all the travelers wonder, now with the current coronavirus outbreak in China highlights. Many travelers are concerned: 50 percent of travelers said the virus becoming more widespread would impact their travel plans. So how will we make the decision to cancel or adjust our trip plans on a viral outbreak abroad?
Canceling your China travel is the first obvious answer. But a solid no-go area like central China doesn’t necessarily prevent you from traveling anywhere in the broader region: South Korea, Japan, and Thailand have also reported cases of the virus (here’s an up-to-date map of all the affected cities). The Chinese coronavirus arose in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends against all non-essential travel to China.
China’s travel advisory was updated to a Level 3, meaning travelers should reconsider travel. Wuhan’s is at a Level 4, meaning it is locked down.
So, it’s safe to say you should avoid visiting China for now. But if you’re heading to another destination in Asia that has reported or may still report coronavirus cases, there are important things to take into consideration:
Remember that keeping away from dense crowds is probably a good idea especially if you do plan on visiting broader Asia or other nearby cities. Metros, crowded markets—you are familiar with these places when traveling. In general, viral germs spread more quickly in densely populated areas.
A mask can be effective if worn properly
The two main prevention suggestions are washing hands frequently and wearing face masks. Although the mask is frequently suggested as an important means of protection, its reliability is uncertain. Frequent hand washing of course helps reduce the risk of viral or bacterial infection, but only some experts say face masks can cut your risk significantly. Masks rated as N95 filter out 95 percent of PM2.5 particles are considered the bare minimum for pollution protection.
Don’t travel without a travel insurance
Travel insurance is, of course, a key consideration. Most policies will likely cover cancellation penalties if you booked your trip months ago. Most medical coverage would cover local treatment costs and trip interruption coverage would cover an early return home if you’re already in an affected area. Reach out to your provider about the fine print to find out. But almost all policies limit coverage to unforeseen circumstances: any virus-related problems would almost certainly be considered as foreseen and therefore excluded,so if you book a trip after an outbreak has occurred.
It’s up to you to make the best decision. If your trip is not absolutely necessary, don’t take risks and postpone the trip. In case you have no choice and must go, take the necessary means of protection: avoid crowds, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly. Don’t forget to check on your destination’s situations and read the news regularly to know what areas to avoid.