We're halfway through exams and everyone was looking forward to the break at the end of the school year. This is also the time when my family and I typically start throwing around ideas about our summer travel plans. This is the time to book ideally for the summer holidays since we can get early bird discounts and it gives us enough time to research and plan travel around the country we are visiting.
This year, however, everything is up in the air. Fears about the Coronavirus ( or Covid-19 as it's also known outbreak, which has affected more than 82,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,800, are adding a new layer of anxiety. It started off on mainland China, but the disease is now spreading widely in other areas of the world. Travellers are reconsidering their 2020 vacation plans. For many, that means cancelling their annual trip with the family.
As A Parent My Biggest Concern – Are Kids At Risk With This Virus?
Though the evidence to date suggests this virus doesn’t inflict severe disease on children, there’s reason to think kids may be helping to amplify transmission. It’s a role they play to devastating effect during flu season, becoming ill and passing flu viruses on to their parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers.
“It’s not that they’re not getting an infection. They’re not getting the disease. They’re not getting sick. If they are infected, there is no reason to believe that they will not transmit,”
said Malik Peiris, a coronavirus expert at Hong Kong University.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Cancelling Your Trip
- Is your destination affected by the coronavirus outbreak?
- Are you part of a group that is at risk of a coronavirus infection (older people or those with pre-existing medical conditions).
- Do you have travel insurance? If you cancel, will your travel insurance cover your costs?
- Will you be spending a lot of time in crowded public spaces or sharing rooms in hostels?
If the answer to any of those questions is "yes," you might want to consider cancelling.
- This is the most important one – Wash your hands. Why? Viruses can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, close contacts can be infected. In addition, the virus can end up on doorknobs, elevator buttons and other surfaces. If you touch those surfaces then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can become infected. Which is why it's important to wash rigorously.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Teach the kids to start singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice and dry their hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
So, Should You Travel?
For travel outside the country, check travel warnings recommending that travellers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Authorities in all countries are also asking older adults or those with compromised immune systems to consider postponing nonessential travel. Visit the government websites of countries you plan to visit. If you are visiting any country that has had an outbreak (or in some cases, neighbouring countries), the biggest risk is not always that you will be exposed to the virus, but that you could face travel delays, inspections, and potential quarantine when returning home or entering a second destination
The Times also publishes an interactive map to show where the authorities are warning against travel.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether or not you should cancel your trip. Consider all of the above, and weigh those hard costs and potential inconveniences against your personal risk, based on your health history and destination.
Listen to the KSP Radio podcast on the Corona Virus with your kids and help them understand what's causing it all.