Coronavirus Outbreak Explained and Travel Advice
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Coronavirus Outbreak Explained and Travel Advice

Governments worldwide have relevant advice regarding coronavirus |
Governments worldwide have relevant advice regarding coronavirus | | ? Didier ZYLBERYNG / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip explains everything you need to know about COVID-19, including its symptoms, where it has spread and how to protect yourself from infection. Check back here for regular updates and read our developing regional coverage of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and South, Central and North America.

Latest Frequently Asked Questions

Is it still safe to travel?

This depends on what your government is advising.

For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides the most up-to-date travel advice, and currently recommends travellers avoid all non-essential travel to 26 European countries (in the Schengen borderless area), South Korea, Iran and China.

Health experts also advise those with chronic medical conditions to consult their doctor before travelling, as The New York Times reports.

Which countries have coronavirus travel restrictions in place?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) website regularly updates a list of countries and regions where restrictions are in place.

Which flights are being cancelled due to coronavirus?

The spread of coronavirus has discouraged people from travelling overseas, resulting in a number of flight cancellations across the airline industry.

The Independent reports on all the airlines that have reduced their routes.

Will the Euro 2020 football tournament or the Tokyo Olympics be cancelled?

The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship – or Euro 2020 – is due to take place in 12 cities in 12 countries across Europe this summer.

With the opening game between Italy and Turkey set for kick-off in Rome on 12 June, there are mounting concerns that the tournament – held across the continent for the first time in history – will be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Yet the head of UEFA remains confident that the tournament will go ahead as planned.

“Let’s try to be optimistic and not think about dark scenarios. There’s time for that later,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

The International Olympic Committee is also confident that this summer’s Tokyo Games will open as scheduled in July amid concerns over possible disruptions caused by COVID-19.

“We would prefer to stick to the advice from the experts, and we still see no reason to think other than that we will be going ahead,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a press conference, Kyodo News reports.

How has business travel been affected by the outbreak?

Major tech companies such as Amazon and Twitter have already discouraged “non-critical business travel” for their employees, while several conferences – such as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the leading show for the mobile phone industry, and travel trade show ITB Berlin – have been cancelled.

In a survey of 400 businesses by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), two-thirds of respondents reported cancelling meetings and almost one in five had cancelled “many”, TravelWeekly reports.

Is using hand sanitisers the best way to reduce transmission of the virus?

Health experts have warned that using too much hand sanitiser may actually increase the risk of infection.

Excessively using alcohol-based hand sanitisers could remove ‘normal bacterial flora’ on our skin and ward off pathogens, according to Tokyo-based chemical products company Kao Corporation.

Speaking to Kyodo News, a spokesperson for the company said: “Of course, it is necessary to wash hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers in order to reduce transmission of the new virus, but overdoing anything is not good.”

“Dry and damaged skin [caused by using too much sanitiser] could become a hotbed of disease bacteria and also increase the risk of viruses entering the body through cuts in the skin,” the spokesperson added.

Where can I find out about airlines and airports affected by the viral outbreak?

Airport-technology.com, a website reporting on airport and airline news across the globe, provides up-to-date information on which airlines are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and what measures airports are taking to stop its spread.

What is self-isolation and who needs to do it?

Self-isolation is about protecting others and stopping the spread of COVID-19. It is very important that anyone who has or might have been exposed to the virus limits the number of people they come into contact with for 14 days, UK health officials warn.

If you are asked to self-isolate, you must:

? stay at home
? if you have symptoms, telephone your local medical services for advice – but do not go out to a hospital or doctor
? avoid having visitors in your home
? ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you – such as getting groceries or medications – and leave them on your doorstep
? if you are sharing a home with someone, stay alone in a well-ventilated bedroom and use the bathroom after others have done so, the BBC reports.

What is the impact on travel insurance?

It depends on your national government’s current advice. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), “anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance”.

If you want to cancel a trip to areas to which the government hasn’t advised against all-but-essential travel, you run the risk of not getting a refund.

This is because travel insurance is not designed to cover “disinclination to travel”, which would be the case when the UK government hasn’t advised against travel to the area, said the ABI.

What is classified as “essential” travel?

The ABI advises that you check with your travel insurer if the reasons for your trip would invalidate your insurance.

“A holiday to the area is unlikely to be considered essential,” its website states.

How many people and countries have been affected so far?

As of 13 March 2020, there are 142,897 cases of COVID-19 worldwide – with 56% of those confirmed within mainland China – affecting 136 countries and territories and 1 international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan). 5,375 have died and 70,920 have recovered, according to the Worldometers.info website, which compiles data from the World Health Organisation and other health agencies.

Italy (17,660), Iran (11,364) and South Korea (7,979) have the highest number of confirmed cases outside of China.

Do face masks help prevent coronavirus?

As The Guardian reports, regular surgical face masks offer almost no protection. More specialised masks, such as the N95 respirator, can protect against COVID-19. However, the wearer runs the risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching the outside of the mask where the viral droplets can gather.

What should I do if I have a trip planned?

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US Department of State recommend against all non-essential travel to China. If you have upcoming travel plans to the country, reach out to your airline, hotel or tour operator for more information.

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FACTBOX

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19, first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, is a strain of coronavirus previously unknown to human science.

The first infections were linked to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, but the virus is now spreading from person to person

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats”.

What are its symptoms?

Symptoms of the virus include a cough, fever, sore throat, headache and breathing difficulties.

The virus can cause lower respiratory tract illness like pneumonia, especially for those with a weaker immune system, like the very young or elderly.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incubation period – between getting infected and showing symptoms – lasts up to 14 days.

How is the virus transmitted?

The virus can be spread by human-to-human transmission – for example, coming into contact with an infected person’s droplets in a cough.

As CNN reports, COVID-19 can also be transmitted by touching an object which an infected person has touched, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

How can you prevent its spread?

Wash your hands frequently – Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand gel can kill the virus.

Maintain social distance – Keep your distance from people coughing, sneezing or with a fever – ideally, 1 metre (3.2 feet) away.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – If your hands touch a contaminated surface, you run the risk of that virus entering your body.

Practice good respiratory hygiene – Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (ideally with a tissue), and wash your hands afterwards.

Useful links on coronavirus

The BBC provides a visual guide to the viral outbreak, with key maps, graphics and stats.

The Worldometer website provides real-time statistics and updates on COVID-19 cases across the globe.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) offers advice on how the general public can help prevent the spread of the virus.

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