Everything Travelers Need to Know About the Rising Fear around Coronavirus

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The coronavirus that emerged in December last year seems unstoppable with more and more countries raising red alerts. China has recorded a total of 2,720 deaths and 78,064 confirmed cases of the virus. These numbers have been gradually increasing even with signs the virus slowing down. This outbreak has got travelers biting their nails in fear. Hence, here are all the commonly asked questions about traveling with this dangerous virus on the loose.

What is Coronavirus and where is the epicenter of the disease?

The Coronavirus strain that is spreading at present is the COVID-19 which was never seen before December last year. Like the other strains of the virus, this one was also contracted from animals. The first case was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) were quoted saying, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats.”

This virus can be easily misunderstood for a common flu as the symptoms begin with a fever and cough. It affects the respiratory system of the body and sometimes causes gastrointestinal distress. If there are complications patients can develop pneumonia and kidney-related issues leading to death.

Which countries are affected by Coronavirus?

The virus that originated in China has so far spread to 39 countries, creating panic among travelers. The death toll in other countries is at 40 with 16 deaths recorded in Iran, 10 each in Italy and South Korea and one each in Japan, France, Taiwan and the Philippines.

San Francisco has also declared a state emergency even without any recorded cases. The Mayor London Breed said this step was needed to keep the city safe. The statement from the Mayor read, “Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step up preparedness.”
This city is just following the common phrase of precaution is better than cure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated the virus is likely to spread in parts of the country.

What are the efforts taken by airlines to curb the virus?

Aircrafts are tiny spaces that have flown a number of passengers with or without the virus. This raises questions about the hygiene process of the airlines and if the virus can be transmitted through them. The answer is yes, if the aircraft fails to conduct regular cleaning procedures, it is likely to catch the virus off the unclean aircraft.

Airlines have strict rules about cleaning and have a dedicated group of cleaners to scrub the aircraft. However, a few airlines are taking an extra step towards protecting their crew and passengers. Delta Airlines is providing health kits to all its passengers with hand sanitizer, surgical masks, and gloves. A spokesperson for Delta also confirmed that the aircrafts were being cleaned profusely to avoid any transmission.

Alaska Air has also upped its precautionary methods with cleaning of bathrooms and tray tables between every flight. The Alaska Air spokesperson confirmed that, “Our existing cleaning and disinfecting chemicals are effective against viruses, and nothing about the novel coronavirus indicates that it is resistant to these efforts.”

Will a face mask protect you from Coronavirus? And what are the precautionary steps?

The most important thing to understand is that Coronavirus is an airborne virus. This means if you have had close contact with someone with the virus, it is likely that you have contracted it as well. The biggest misconception surrounding this illness is the use of surgical masks.

The surgical mask cannot protect you from the virus in fact there are chances of it making things worse. Wearing the mask will just allow the bacteria to stick to the material and eventually transmit into your body. The safer way is to follow a hygienic system of washing your hands on a regular basis.

Avoid touching your face if you have not washed your hands, keeping your hands clean is an assured way to keep the virus at bay. Also remember to keep your distance from people showing flu symptoms and cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing yourself. Another precaution includes reducing the consumption of meat but if you do eat ensure the meat is not undercooked.

Which airlines are impacted by this virus?

Wuhan is the epicenter of the virus and hence all flights in and out of this city have been suspended worldwide. American, Delta and United Airlines have all announced suspension of flights to China. While American Airlines placed the suspension date till 27th March, Delta Airlines have cancelled flights to China till April.

Flights by United Airlines will not travel to China until the 28th of March. However, these dates may change depending on the spread of the virus. Other airlines that have cancelled all flights to China include Lion Air, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Seoul Air.

Air Canada is also staying safe by suspending flights to Beijing and Shanghai till the 10th of April. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted a revenue loss of $29 billion due to the virus. Airlines around the world are forced to cancel flight routes and demand has also reduced.

Chinese airlines and Asia Pacific airlines are the ones to be heavily impacted by these changes. The airlines in Asia Pacific region are expected to go in a loss of $27 billion while $1.5 billion in revenue losses for airlines outside Asia.

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