Covid-19: How to Travel Safely Amidst This Global Pandemic

Covid-19: How to Travel Safely Amidst This Global Pandemic

By: Mahnur Chiragh

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic on the 11th March 2020.

Fast forward to September, it’s still pretty obvious that travelling is not and will not be the same anymore. It’s no news that due to COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic, flying is not as frequent as it used to be. Before people got to cancel their summer or spring holidays, airlines made sure to do so. Even though human trials for the covid-19 vaccine have begun, it’s still going to be a while until the world has a supply it. There have been cases of re-infection as well, so we really don’t have a clear picture for now.

Since, most us have pending flight tickets, we’re planning to travel in the coming few months. Here is a guide on how to do so. With many restrictions still in place, people have started to travel, following standard operating procedures (SOP’s). Being locked down for months has caused a lot of strain on people’s mental health’s, so travelling is their solution to it.

Understanding COVID-19 – Spread and Symptoms:

Close contact to a person who is infected, will guarantee the transmission of the virus. Whether it is a sneeze or a cough, you will test positive for sure. The main way this disease has become widespread is through the transmission of respiratory droplets in the air. However, there is also surface contamination. This virus tends to live for hours or days on certain types of surfaces such a metal doorknob or cardboard. Unfortunately, if you do come in contact with the contaminated surface and touch your eyes, nose or mouth even by accident, you’ll be infected.

A lot of the Covid-19 symptoms are similar to that of a normal flu. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you do have the disease. The symptoms tend to develop between 24-48 hours after you have been exposed to the virus. They include fever, cough, sore throat and breathing problems (only in severe cases when blood oxygen saturation level drops below 95%).

Is Covid-19 life threatening?

To some extent it is and to some extent it isn’t. It depends on how exposed you were to the virus. If you were in close contact with the person carrying it, then there may be serious complications. Self-isolating is how the majority of the population recovered from the virus. At some point and time, hospitals didn’t even have enough beds or ventilators to admit covid-19 patients. Being young and healthy is a plus point because you will recover from it eventually, but it is highly likely that you also maybe asymptomatic and carrying the disease with you. However, older people are more at risk since their immune systems are not strong enough to fight the virus and the fact that they also have underlying health problems makes them more susceptible to it.

Ready, Jet, Go!

I think most of us are ready to pack our bags, claim our cancelled tickets and jet around the world. Personally, I also did travel from Australia to Asia in the middle of this pandemic due to an emergency, not to mention, I was wearing a hazmat suit and goggles during the entire flight, but I would totally do it again!

Most people are concerned, when travelling with kids since its not safe. And it really is a personal choice at the end of the day. Airlines are being precautious, we are being precautious, governments are being precautious so why not?! Having experienced travelling during the pandemic, we will now explore how exposure and risk was kept to the bare minimum.

Things to keep in mind before you travel during the pandemic:

It is of utmost importance to understand that travelling during the pandemic is not entirely risk free. There is a high probability you may or may not get infected. I think it’s pure luck. If by chance you are exposed to someone who is covid-19 positive, you might get infected depending on how close the contact was. But you do need to keep your age, medical history and your destination in mind.

Being young does not mean in any way that you have a lesser chance of getting infected. It simply means that you have a greater chance of recovering without the disease-causing fatal complications. Vice versa for the elderly, they are at a higher risk of getting complications that maybe be life threatening.

Your medical history is also very important when dealing with this virus. If you have issues with breathing, cancer or diabetes you will be more prone to having complications. So, before you travel do keep in mind your current medical condition.

Lastly, your final destination matter. If its Italy, or Spain or certain parts of the U.S, we don’t think it’s a good idea. Obviously if your returning home, that’s a different story, but if you’re going to these places for a vacation, I suggest you should change your mind.

Be prepared to be notified that your flight just got cancelled!

Each country has their own protocols against international travel so don’t be surprised if your flight gets cancelled a day or two before. Governments are making efforts to open up international travel to boost their economies but are also super concerned about the potential strain of covid-19 that the passengers maybe carrying with them. Some countries have completely opened up tourism, and some are only allowing citizens to come back home.

When selecting a country, make sure to research properly and check the tourism status, whether malls, cafes, museums, and other touristy spots have opened up for the public. The airline you choose to travel with will have their own protocols. Be careful to check if your country is on the list the airline is flying to.

Make this a part of your daily regime -whether its travelling on a bus, train or an airplane

It is essential that you wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve been on public transport. And if you don’t have access to water, make sure to carry a of hand sanitizer wherever you go. It is preferred that you wash your hands using soap but a 60% alcohol content or a hospital grade hand sanitizer would get the job done.

Even if people are not keeping a safe distance, you need to make sure to maintain yours because particles from an infected persons cough or sneeze will get you infected as well. Ideal distance is 6 feet apart but try to keep as much distance as possible between the other person and yourself whether you’re on the bus or train or airplane. Airlines are very strict about the SOP’s, so you don’t need to worry.

Be sure to wear a mask no matter what. It’s a saviour! Trust me. Whether you’re in an open space or not, wear a mask. Saying this, avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth if you haven’t washed your hands. Since the virus lives on surfaces such as cardboard and metal for days, it is likely that you might get infected if you were in contact with those surfaces and touch your face.

Shops, cafes, and places that have large gatherings have made is mandatory for you to wear a mask. With this being said, you need to be cautious for your own sake and avoid small and closed spaces as well as countries that have a greater number of coronavirus cases.

If by any chance, you experience any of the symptoms, seek medical help, no questions asked. You cannot put other people’s life at risk as well as your own if the symptoms get worse. Even if you think it’s a seasonal flu, get yourself tested, or isolate yourself for a few days to see if the symptoms remain.

Choose wisely!

Even though all official policies of airlines include limited capacity and maintaining a safe distance amongst passengers, some tend to implement these rules more than others. Emirates by far has followed each and every protocol for the passengers as well as the staff starting from boarding from the back of the plane to giving out safety kits that include a wipe, sanitizer, mask and gloves. Be sure to choose the airline you fly with carefully. Read their ticket refund policies as well. When it comes to selecting your seat, choose window! It’ll guarantee lesser contact with people.

Airlines are deep cleaning, but it doesn’t hurt you to wipe down the high spots of your seat. Wipe your full seat back and head rest, your seatbelt, both arm rests, your window shade, tray latch and table and your air vents.

Even though it sounds a little weird, wear a hazmat suit when travelling. It saved me from getting infected and it might save you too. I mean there’s no harm in it. You’ll be sure to enjoy your vacation since you won’t get infected. I grabbed mine from my local bunning’s, but you can grab yours from a household hardware store. The extent to which a hazmat suit can save your life can be seen by the works of NGO’s such as Transparent Hands US INC. who made sure to donate these suits to hospitals for protection against the novel coronavirus.