Traveling During Coronavirus: The Dos & Don'ts
In travelling during and post Coronavirus, what is a traveller’s responsibility? What are the things they should do. What are things that they should not do? How are they to ensure their own safety and health, as well as that of the people around them? In this volatile world, where even diplomatic immunities are not enough protection, what are the things one must take care of when travelling to foreign countries? Questions like these plague everyone. Because everyone is planning travel some time or the other soon.
If you are also looking for answers, then here are the 'dos and don'ts' of travel during COVID19.
#Do : Maintain Health Card & Updated Travel History
Very essential in the present day. Probably as important as you passport and visa. A health card with your health history, allergies, co-morbidities (if any), vaccines etc is a must, even if some host countries don’t declare them mandatory. They become your immunity blanket in case of severe immigration checking, and also help you in case of any medical emergencies in a foreign land. Along with that, also do maintain an updated travel history with accurate dates. This will also become mandatory on most customs soon.
Another 'do' included in your health card is to be ahead of all your vaccine shots. Make sure to also take the flu shot, as the COVID19 symptoms are very similar to the flu; which makes it hard to detect. If you are immune to the flu, then there is a lesser chance of you falling ill and having to stand in the ‘Corona testing’ line.
#Do : Respect Host Country’s Norms
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This does not only apply for the eating and living in a foreign country, but lately also to their hygiene and sanitation standards. Every nation will have its unique set of laws for social distancing. Some may propagate 2 metres between persons, others as many as 6, some nations may allow disposable masks, others N-95. In countries like India, people spiting may be a crime but not taken as seriously, while in others, you may be jailed. So make sure to read up on your host countries norms and respect them. For their safety, as well as yours.
#Do : Prefer Private Transport Options
This is a ‘do,’ even when you are travelling in your home city. With the social distancing norms overtaking public space, it is imperative for people with private vehicles like cars and two-wheelers to take those when going out, instead of putting stress on the already stretched capacity of public transport. Leave the buses and trains for those who cannot afford private transportation. Rickshaws and taxis are also another decent option, but they require you to wipe down the surfaces once you board.
#Do : Maintain Social Distance
Stay away. Don’t Socialise. Talk from afar. Fold your hands instead of a handshake. That is the beginning of social distancing. When travelling, your seats in the plane or train and spaces on the airport or station will be safeguarded with social distancing norms by the authorities. But once at your destination, it is your responsibility to continue maintaining social distance from people. The onus then, is on you to create a radius of 3-6 feet around yourself and not venture out of that. Neither let anybody enter it. Especially if they are coughing, sneezing or look ill.
#Do : Post-travel Medical Examination
When you return home after your trip, make sure you go for a full check up. It doesn’t matter if you are fit and healthy, and have no signs or symptoms of any illness. A post-travel medical examination is your responsibility, so that you don’t come home carrying something that you pass onto your near ones, knowingly or unknowingly. Most medical practitioners will test you for the diseases or infections that your host city or country has been listed with on WHO.
#Do : Self-Quarantine on Return to Home Country
If you have in any way been exposed to coronavirus or any other infection on your trip, or come in contact with anyone who has, then self isolate yourself for a period of time specified by your doctor (dependent on that disease). For a long time post COVID, most tourists returning home will be put under self-quarantine, especially those returning from hotspots like Europe, North America etc.
#Don’t : Hide any Ailments or Symptoms
Before departing your home city/country or returning from your trip, do not hide any medical conditions or symptoms you may have developed. Don’t ignore what your body is trying to tell you. If you feel breathless or have dry coughing fits without fever, it is possible that the thermal scanners may pronounce you fit. But do not hide it. Don’t hide your co-morbidities or any other discomforts due to BP, kidney diseases, diabetes, thyroid etc. You may be jeopardising your health, as well as of those around you. And also inviting legal charges.
#Don’t : Ignore Hygiene Practises
Don’t even think about it.
Ignoring basic daily sanitation and hygiene practises is like leaving yourself open to any and every infection out there. From common cold to influenza, pneumonia to typhoid to the novel coronavirus; you are opening your goalpost to them all. Follow the World Health Organisation guidelines and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after coming in from outdoors, after using the bathroom, before eating or handling children. Sanitise with 60%+ alcohol based sanitiser if you are outdoors, disinfect your bag handles and sanitise your phones and other items you touch on a daily basis. If sneezing or coughing, do so in the crook of your elbow or shoulder.
#Don’t : Panic if Someone Nearby is Sick
It’s a pandemic, not a panic-demic. So please don’t give into hysteria or paranoia if someone in your vicinity looks ill or sneezes or coughs. Chances are (81% odds), that they are just going through a regular seasonal flu or are allergic. Having said that, move away as far away from them as you can. In flights or trains, mostly the authorities will make sure such patients are isolated on cordoned seats. However, do not spread hatred or panic about such patients. Wear your mask, keep your hands to yourself, wash them and sanitise them before eating. You will be good.
#Don’t : Self Medicate
This is the bane of most issues at hand. People think they are half doctors thanks to Google and WebMD. Even without such research, it is dangerous to self-medicate, especially in such dire times when you are travelling. Even if it’s just a cough or fever, don’t jump to that packet of antibiotics in your travel pouch. Instead call your doctor and consult them. Don’t believe everything you read on google about your symptoms. If half of it was true, then 75% of the world’s population would be either dead or sick!
So use your wisdom and be a responsible global citizen.