Safely Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 11, 2020

If you have kept an eye on the news, you know about the coronavirus. You might have gone a little deeper and done some research. At first, adapting to the illness wasn’t as challenging since the virus was in its earlier stages. Now, cases are turning up in multiple countries affecting people, travelers, and those most at-risk. While concerns continue growing, travelers must learn the best practices, especially in service-related organizations.

For example, Italy recently experienced a surge in coronavirus cases. Late last week, the U.S. State Departments warned against traveling in Italy due to “sustained community spread” of the virus. As the situation escalates, you must separate fact from fiction, understanding when travel is safe and when it isn’t worth the risk. Should you start canceling upcoming trips? Will you take advantage of lower fares and rates or let them pass by? If you insist on travel and it is deemed safe, what is the best way you can prepare?

If you are going to navigate this challenging time, you must first understand the latest updates and how the coronavirus affects your humanitarian travel plans and your group’s safety.

Let’s discuss the origins of the virus, what regions are currently affected, and the best tips for staying up-to-date in the upcoming weeks.

How the Coronavirus Works

What began in central China is now affecting countries throughout the world. The first detection of the virus occurred on December 31, 2019. Since then, the coronavirus has infected over 100,000 people. This outbreak is affecting everything it touches, causing stock market drops, conspiracy theories, quarantines, and more. Here is an outline of how the coronavirus works.

The coronavirus is a new strain in a family of viruses that most of us have already experienced. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to more severe illnesses. The strain that started in Wuhan, China, is in the same family as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This exact coronavirus strain can lead to the development of a respiratory disease called covid-19 for those affected.

Although the virus is rapidly spreading, about two percent of reported cases have led to death, with many experts suspecting an even lower death rate than currently reported. Common symptoms of coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection causes pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.

The WHO recommends the following to fight the spread of the virus:

      • Regular hand washing
      • Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
      • Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
      • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms

What You Need to Know About the Spread Coronavirus for Travel

As the situation develops, you should know what to do about upcoming humanitarian trips. Especially since most humanitarian trips are planned months, even years in advance. Right now, concerns around the coronavirus are growing. You must understand where travel is safe, how to stay healthy, and when you should reschedule.

Here are a few other updates you should keep in mind as you handle your travel business:

• The virus is spreading throughout the United States with over 700 reported cases.
• South Korea experienced a spike of confirmed cases over the last week, with authorities raising the region to Warning Level 3 with China.
• Japan also saw a jump in the number of cases and is now at an Alert Level 2.
• The largest outbreak in Europe is currently in Italy (Warning Level 3), with total confirmed cases rising to over 10,000.
• Several towns in Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions are on shutdown.
• Iran is now at a Warning Level 3, with a sharp rise in cases in the region.
• Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, and Oman, have all reported confirmed cases.
• Globally, more than 100,000 people have been infected.

All in all, WHO recently stated that the virus is now spreading faster outside of China, where it originated, but warned against unnecessary panic. The organization is encouraging travelers exhibiting symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness before, during, or after travel, to seek medical attention and share travel history with their health care provider as soon as possible.

Recommendations for Travel

As a humanitarian traveler, it is essential that you know what you need going into your trip and how to stay healthy and safe. Going forward, make sure you inspect every aspect of your trips and how it might be affected from the virus, including areas you are going, organizations you are visiting, and so on.

Travelers should also follow these guidelines to better protect themselves:

• Review the CDC’s current travel warnings and consider outlining precautionary policies for those traveling to the affected areas until the situation resolves. Communicate these policies with all who will be involved in your humanitarian or mission travel.
• Look into purchasing insurance for any upcoming bookings to cover against any sudden changes or developments.
• Keep updated on airline changes, travel advisories, and other businesses that could alter travel plans. Many airlines have changed flight frequencies and capacity to profoundly affected areas, and some have begun to offer refund/rebooking options.
• Be aware of how other countries around the world are responding to the outbreak. Stay updated on travel advisories by visiting on BCD Travel’s website.

Additional Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus is spreading, but that doesn’t mean you should panic. Educate yourself and your organization knowing when to travel, when to postpone, and when to book. If you are looking to score flight deals while fares are at record lows, make sure you know all detailed information and necessary warnings. You should also invest in flight insurance in case the situation escalates and you need to cancel your plans

You can contact CV Humanitarian Travel with any questions you have regarding the latest coronavirus developments. You can also use the following websites for current information: