The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is having significant impact on travel around the globe.
Also known as COVID-19, the speed with which the outbreak is unfolding has created an atmosphere of uncertainty for travelers wondering how should they respond.
We encourage travelers to check for the most recent and relevant updates. Tripadvisor is well-positioned to assist in informing travelers throughout this challenging period – and when ready, assisting in recovery efforts.
Read on for a wrap up of how the virus is affecting travel, ways you can protect yourself, and tools and resources for staying abreast of this fast-developing situation.
Is it still safe to travel?
Many nations are enacting more stringent travel restrictions or travel bans, and new policies are being implemented daily. Here’s a roundup of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IATA is also maintaining a comprehensive country-by-country list of COVID-19 restrictions on travel. Most commercial airlines have reduced or suspended routes to and from epidemic areas as well as an overall reduction due to fewer travelers in general. New travel restrictions are being introduced daily, so it is advisable to check directly with your carrier before flying. In addition, many restaurants and attractions around the world have closed to avoid large gatherings.
Travelers returning from affected areas are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and follow their country’s national protocols — which may include self-quarantine for the incubation period.
If symptoms do occur, travelers are advised to seek medical care and inform healthcare providers of their symptoms and their travel history.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, you can visit the Tripadvisor community’s forums page.
What countries have reported cases of COVID-19?
COVID-19 cases have now been reported on every continent except Antarctica.
On March 11 the WHO labeled COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
You can track the disease globally in real-time with this map from John Hopkins University. (best viewed in desktop)
How will it affect travel planning?
Resources for following COVID-19’s impact on transportation:
- Airfarewatchdog Blog: COVID-19 Flight waivers and refund policies by airline
- Airfarewatchdog Blog: COVID-19 Flight cancellations by region and airline
- Cruise Critic: Coronavirus – Cruise Ship Policies and Cancellations
Standard travel insurance is unlikely to cover cancelations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak — concern over health and safety is not generally listed under standard coverage.
In addition, because the spread of the COVID-19 virus is well known and is no longer considered an “unexpected event,” travelers are also unable to purchase “Trip Cancellation” benefits for the coronavirus, according to travel insurance comparison website Squaremouth.
Each insurance provider assigns a specific date to when they consider an event having a “foreseeable impact” on travel. In regards to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, this date ranges between January 21st and January 27th, according to Squaremouth.
Travelers are instead being encouraged to purchase a “Cancel For Any Reason” upgrade, which will ensure coverage for the outbreak — but this typically increases the premium by about 40%.
If trip interruption coverage is included in your policy, standard travel insurance will likely cover you.
Travelers who are insured through their credit cards are advised to file a claim with their financial institution to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. But similar to policies purchased through insurance providers, coverage may not include concern over health and safety.
What are the symptoms and how do I protect myself?
Common signs of infection include shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fever and cough. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, organ failure and death.
Anyone can fall ill but the groups most at risk of severe infection or death are elderly people or people with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes. Very few children have been diagnosed or suffered serious cases.
COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected individual speaks, coughs or sneezes at close range, which the WHO defines as within 6 feet.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also warned it may be possible for a person to become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
There have been some reported cases of asymptomatic spread, meaning a person showing no symptoms has passed the virus onto others. However, this is considered uncommon.
There is currently no vaccine against COVID-19. To protect yourself against infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends:
- Washing your hands regularly with an alcohol-based sanitizer
- Maintaining distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Seeking medical care immediately if you are showing symptoms