What The Coronavirus Means For Your Impending Air Travel

With travel being a major area where people are open to transmissions of the Covid-19 or the Coronavirus, it’s essential to take into account all the relevant information there is. In a time when officials are recommending as much social distancing as possible to avoid the spread, it is best to cancel any non-essential travel plans that you might have, international or domestic, in order to keep safety in check. Should you need to absolutely step out of the house and travel to another location, we suggest taking the necessary precautions. Here’s taking a look at the pandemic and how it affects travel. 

About The Virus

The respiratory virus which originated in Wuhan, China has spread to every continent with the exception of Antarctica. The outbreak, which earlier sent a number of countries into lockdown, has affected 81 people in India with the first death being reported in Karnataka, the statistics at the time of this feature being written. 

The name ‘Coronavirus’ is derived from the structure of the virus as seen in pictures released by the Centers for Disease Control. Resembling the sun’s corona—or the upper atmosphere—the virus is called SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19 being the disease it leads to. On March 11, the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic, the term that they define as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” The agency goes on to describe the disease as “zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.”  

Origin & Precautions

While the primary source of the virus is yet to be discovered, with bats being considered as a prominent possibility, the fact that it can be transmitted in community has been confirmed as early as January. In person-to-person contact, the source of transmission is the droplets of an infected person which can be passed on while talking, breathing, sneezing, and coughing. There is no certain information on the time period up to which these droplets remain active on any given surface (an unreviewed paper published in database medRxix suggests that the virus can remain active in the air for up to 3 hours; copper for up to 4 hours; cardboard up to a day and on plastic and stainless steel up to 3 days), which is why consistent hygiene, washing of hands with soap and water, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly, avoiding touching the face, sneezing or coughing into one’s elbow, and avoiding direct contact such as handshakes is recommended.

How It Affects Travel

In India, where the outbreak has seen measures taken by the government—in Delhi, where Covid-19 has been declared an endemic, public spaces, including schools, have been shut till March 31. To contain the spread, visas of foreign nationals coming to India have been suspended till April 15 (with specific exceptions), with the government advising Indians to refrain from travelling abroad. Countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka have put their visa-on-arrival facilities on hold, with Italy, the second-most affected country after China, on complete lockdown and the US cancelling to and fro travel from almost all parts of Europe along with African countries also opting to restrict travel, including that from the US and Europe. Back in India, all nationals coming back from international locations will be quarantined to keep any probability of symptoms in check. Take a look at the detailed travel advisory issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

Precautions To Take

If you happen to be flying to a domestic location, expect the same amount of security checks, along with additional ones for body temperature and symptoms of the virus. Masks are known to have a lesser impact on preventing transmission, which is why officials have put more emphasis on washing/sanitizing your hands and avoiding touching your face. Avoid touching surfaces; carry a hand sanitizer and use it at regular intervals and stay hydrated. It might also be helpful to carry multi-use wipes to clean the armrest and surface where you sit in-flight and a biodegradable seal bag for disposal. 

Most importantly, and to reiterate, this is the time to avoid all forms of non-essential travels and follow protocol to ward off the virus. Stay safe and take care of yourself and those around you. 

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