Monday, 27 January 2020

What you need to know about the coronavirus if travelling

The outbreak of a new respiratory disease, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this month, is causing quite a bit of alarm for some travellers. Like SARS and MERS, this new type of coronavirus (called WN-CoV at the moment, but expect a snappier name like WuRS to emerge as coverage increases) is spreading quickly via international air travel, with cases already reaching Japan, Thailand, Korea and the United States, and more certain to come.

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (known as the CDC) has raised its advice from level 1 to 2 (of 3), which is the “Alert – Practice Enhanced Precautions” level. That’s not yet “Warning – Avoid Nonessential Travel”.

Be reassured: authorities have well-rehearsed plans for this kind of thing and are putting them into practice now. Temperature screenings are already routine in some areas, and you can expect the new kind of “fever guns” to be pointed at you at your departure airport, arrival airport, and even perhaps on the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has issued an advisory that all passengers arriving from China will be thermal scanned at major airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru to name a few.

Expect airlines to make announcements about the illness, and to exhort anyone who feels ill to contact them. Flying when sick is a bad idea as a general rule, and airlines always have the right to refuse carriage to an ill passenger, but it wouldn’t be surprising  if we see them doing so more at the moment.

So what’s a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include the common cold, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). What the experts are saying at the moment is that this new Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted in much the same way as the common cold.

via Lonely Planet India

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