I travel a couple of times a year for my job, in fact, I have a conference coming up in a couple of weeks and while one of the last places I’d want to be right now is in an airport staying put isn’t really an option. I’m sure many of you are in similar situations or possibly traveling to your next exotic location and are wondering how to stay safe from the possibility of acquiring coronavirus.
Coronavirus disease 2019 aka COVID-19 affects the lungs, with symptoms of coughing, fever, and shortness of breath usually appearing 2-14 days after exposure. Since the World Health Organization announced that its spread is inevitable, this tiny virus has caused quite a panic. While people were warned to prepare in case it affects their communities, the fear is real and hand sanitizers, vitamin C, tissue paper, and face masks have subsequently flown off the shelves.
At the time, experts say people currently should feel very comfortable traveling to destinations within the United States but are warned to check travel warnings if headed outside the country, especially to South Korea, Italy, Iran, and China. The New York Times keeps an updated map to show where authorities are warning against travel
If you have to travel not to worry, research has shown that there is very little risk of any communicable disease being transmitted onboard an aircraft. So while the masses may panic, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of those who contract the coronavirus do not require any type of intensive or serious care and have mild cases. Researchers currently think that the death rate is about 1% and it has been noted that the cases are beginning to slow in China.
While I’m not panicking, I am taking precautions when traveling, here are some things that I plan on doing on my next trip
1. Choose the best seat
The risk of catching coronavirus through the air on a plane is actually quite low unless you’re sitting right next to someone with the disease. This was surprising to me because of the recirculated air, but only 50% of the air is filtered back into the aircraft and that passes through a HEPA filter.
But, apparently, choosing a window seat decreases your chances of catching the virus further (again, unless you’re in close proximity to an infected person). One study showed that the probability of transmission to someone who is not in close proximity is quite low, less than 0.03 percent. The window seat seems to be the safest bet for a variety of reasons including the fact that people in those seats are usually less likely to walk around the cabin. A study showed that 80% of passengers in the aisle walked the plane, 62% of middle seat passengers and 43% of window seaters.
Of course, this all seems to go out the window if the flight attendant is the one ill.
2. Washing hands
This seems like a no brainer to me, because honestly shouldn’t we all be washing our hands any way (insert shrug emoji). Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the main way to safeguard yourself against contracting coronavirus. Handwashing should be done with soap for 10-20 seconds at least or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands. If all the hand sanitizer is gone (like in my local stores) regular alcohol works just as well if not better. Needless to say, there will be some serious handwashing going on.
3. Travel Insurance
I don’t have travel insurance to pay for since my upcoming trip is work-related. But if I were paying out of pocket I would definitely invest in travel insurance. Obviously, make sure to do your due diligence in choosing good travel insurance and the coverage needed. Having a “Cancel for any reason” travel insurance could protect you at all costs, but it is usually extremely expensive.
4. face mask
As face masks become less prevalent in the stores and too expensive on-line many are finding that they may prove to be a waste of money. Most experts are stating that the majority of facemask don’t do much as far as coronavirus transmission to you.
The mask can, however, prevent you from touching your nose and or mouth especially if this is difficult for you to remember. The only mask that I’ve found that can be of some protection is the antiviral N95 mask as it is said to block 95 percent of small particles
Facemasks will also help prevent those already infected spread the virus.
5. Zinc lozenges
According to a pathologist who described himself as “one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses.” Zinc lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. So, I will be keeping these on hand and if I feel a tingle in my throat pop one of these bad boys, what could it hurt?
6. Be antisocial
Okay, so I won’t really be antisocial, but I will definitely keep my distance from anyone that appears to be sick, coughing or sneezing excessively. Experts say to keep a distance of at least six feet from someone exhibiting upper respiratory illness signs. There will also be few to no handshakes, hugs, and kisses on the cheek given. If absolutely necessary I’ll have to keep it at fist bumps.
7. Refrain from touching doors handles
If absolutely necessary I will make sure to use a disinfectant wipe to touch door handles or my knuckle to press elevator buttons or turn on light switches. While it may seem excessive, I would much rather be safe than sorry.
8. Wipe it down
Since coronavirus (and many other viruses) are spread via droplets that we often acquire via touching the droplet and subsequently our mouths or eyes, I will be wiping everything down! This includes my seat at the airport and on the airplane. Also, going over some things in my hotel room as well.
9. Use my own pillow
If you have a travel pillow and travel sheets, I’d suggest using them. While the sheets may not provide much protection aside from a little peace of mind, using your own pillow can prove to be quite beneficial.
Let me know if you have anything to add to the list!