As of today, the most prominent threat in the realm of viral epidemics comes from the land of Wuhan China known as the Coronavirus or Covid-19. But before this, you had Ebola, bird flu, mad cow disease, etc. The difference between today’s Coronavirus and past outbreaks is not only the strength of this illness this time around but also the existence of social media and hundreds if not thousands of new media outlets. Not only that but this virus is communicable for 14 days without showing any symptoms.
It can be tough to understand what precautions to take that are authentic. On that note, in an effort to clarify the right ways to stay safe while traveling during a viral epidemic, we’ve compiled 15 tips to keep you safe.
14. Share Information
Viral outbreaks are definitely nothing new, as there was even a flu epidemic dating back to 1918. The list of epidemic examples can go on and on, but one thing that helped all of them taper off and not wipe out humanity in its entirety is the mass spreading of factual information. Above all else, the one thing that can help you stay safe while traveling during a viral epidemic is to try and stop the viral outbreak before it even gets to you.
One way of doing that is spreading the word of what’s true to friends, family, social media, etc. Stopping mass panic and sharing good hygiene practices is one way to get the ball rolling on preventive care. One more person that you can get to wash their hands is one less person spreading germs.
13. Wash your Hands
In all reality, you’ll probably never have to panic over something like a Cholera epidemic but health scares happen a few times throughout the decade; Keyword–scare. To not only minimize your risk of dealing with anything while you are traveling during a viral epidemic, but to also put your mind at ease, one great tip is to simply wash your hands.
Washing your hands is often the first line of defense in stopping any unwanted germs or airborne toxins from getting into your system. It’s usually not only the first recommendation from employers, schools, and hospitals but also organizations like the CDC. So next time you do anything in the world, make sure to wash those hands first and after!
The proper way to wash your hands is with soap for 20+ seconds. If no bathroom is available to use 60% or greater alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
12. Avoid Close Contact with the Sick or Wear a Mask
This next one on our list of traveling during a viral epidemic might sound like it’s common sense but you’d be surprised just how often we humans don’t realize that we’re actually interacting with the sick. Take for instance shaking a client’s hand overseas during a viral outbreak. If you don’t wear gloves you’re potentially interacting with the sick, try a fist bump or slight bow instead.
Are you grocery shopping abroad while reading this article? That shopping cart may have been touched or sneezed on by a sick person. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it could be true and why take the risk? So be cautious and wipe it down with anti-bacterial wipes or wear gloves.
Always avoid picking up germs in public places to reduce your chance of getting sick yourself. And never, ever touch your eyes, nose, mouth or any soft tissue areas to avoid spreading germs to those areas. Only masks with an N95 or N99 rating will protect you from airborne germs. All others just protect you from touching those areas by acting as a loose barrier.
11. Make Polite Requests
Extreme anxiety over health scares can be a real thing when you’re traveling during a viral epidemic. You may be relaxing in your hotel room overseas when suddenly the news is talking about a viral outbreak in your region. It can be tremendously scary stuff. But if you find yourself in this situation the key is to always be polite.
Why? Because being polite requires you to stay calm, and staying calm is a must. But more importantly, if you’re polite in a country that you may not be entirely familiar with then odds are you’ll get a lot more help from strangers. This helps if you need assistance to the nearest hospital, doctor or pharmacy. It costs nothing to be polite and kind however the payoff could be life-saving.
Also, remember to be polite when in public. Not everyone with a cough or a sneeze is sick. Another way to be polite is to sneeze in a tissue or a napkin and dispose of that napkin immediately. Worst case scenario sneeze into your elbow but remember some virus’ can live on surfaces for up a week or more.
10. Check your Travel Insurance
Not so fun fact, most travel insurance companies don’t cover an epidemics or pandemics. This means that if you happen to get sick, by an outbreak, while traveling during a viral epidemic you may not be covered by your travel insurance. The safest thing to do is to check whether you are insured before you travel.
Now, at the time of booking your flights, there may not be an outbreak. But you want to check just in case there will be an outbreak because if you’re not covered, you may be on the hook for some real big financial charges. Not only do you want to check with your travel insurance carrier, but you may also want to check with your primary health insurance carrier. Making sure you’re insured can give you peace of mind on your trip. These are things you need to understand and decide before you book that trip.
9. Inform Friends and Family of your Travel
One major thing you want to do before you travel just in case there’s an epidemic outbreak or there is a current epidemic outbreak in the region that you’re traveling to is, you’ll want to inform friends and family of where you’re traveling.
This is because if something does happen to you, people will know where you are. You don’t want to wind up in a hospital with no way of contacting anyone. They’ll assume you’re missing or even worse. This is another factor of peace of mind because if you know that loved ones are aware of where you are and you get sick, you have a backup plan. You have people that know how to help you, where to help you, etc.
8. Safeguard Identification
While you’re traveling during a viral epidemic, you want to safeguard your identification as much as possible. Try not to carry your passport on you at all times and if you do, make sure it’s secured on your body tightly. Don’t leave all your identification back at the hotel. Don’t put all your identification in the same bag.
You want to make sure that your identification is safeguarded as much as possible just in case you do get sick or you need to go to the hospital. In any case, it’s good someone can identify who you are.
If the worst-case happens where you do get sick overseas and you’re in the hospital and your possessions are nowhere to be found, you’ll want to have some form of ID on you. The medical staff will need to identify you to be able to inform the embassy and your loved ones.
7. Be Aware of Food Consumption
This next one isn’t as funny as a traveling gif nor will it be mimicking movies about traveling. Always be conscious of what you’re eating, or what you’re about to eat. The latest Coronavirus came from animals. Its complete origin is unknown but the fact of the matter is, you don’t want to eat something that may contain a virus that will make you sick. If an epidemic outbreak is happening and it’s linked to a certain food, you want to avoid that food at all costs, which is why you should always be aware of what you’re consuming.
Also, be aware if you must hunker down inside have non-perishable foods available. These could be bottled water, dried beans, powdered potatoes, rice, canned tuna, etc.
6. Know The Medical Facilities
This next one is pretty self-explanatory, you want to know where the nearest medical facilities are. If something were to happen to you, you want to know where you need to go to get help.
If you were to get sick that’s not the time to figure out where to go in terms of medical facilities, hospitals, Embassy, etc. You want to know beforehand to make getting there as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
You also should know what the hospital’s procedures are in that country. How does their billing work, will they take foreign insurance, will I have to pay out of pocket the day of service, how long could they keep me there, etc.
Knowing the medical facilities and their procedure can oftentimes be life-saving because when emergencies happen, time is of the essence. You cannot wait if you get sick, especially when it comes to a viral outbreak. The last thing you want on your plate is to not know where to go in terms of getting health help.
5. Check With Your Doctor
We’ve spoken about what you need to do before you travel and this is another one of those things you need to do. Without a doubt, you need to check with your doctor if you can go to a specific region because even if a viral outbreak is small, you still want to make sure you are healthy enough to go.
Maybe you have a pre-existing condition that can make you more susceptible to complications. It all comes down to what your doctor has to say and what they recommend in terms of traveling to that region in case of an epidemic outbreak or if the outbreak is already happening.
4. Carry a First Aid Kit
So you’ve checked with your doctor and you also found out where the hospitals are in case something happens. One thing you can also do is carry a first aid kit just in case you do get sick and it’s going to be a while before you get yourself to the hospital.
Now, of course, first aid kits only have the basic necessities but if you know there is an outbreak in the area you are traveling to it wouldnâ€™t hurt to ask your doctor for a prescription, that might help prevent contraction or ease symptoms if contracted. This is only for a â€œjust in caseâ€ scenario if you contract a virus. This could be as little as a general antibiotic to hold you over until you get help.
Some medicines like zinc lozenges have proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus from multiplying in your body. Cold-Eeze is one brand that we use however they are out of stock everywhere. You can try these zinc lozenges.
3. Stay Informed
One of the best things you can do before traveling during a viral epidemic is to just stay informed about that region and what the health like over there. What is the ratio of sickness? You want to just stay informed as much as possible and if there is a viral outbreak watch as much news on it as possible so you yourself can base a judgment on how serious or non-serious the threat is.
Don’t just go by social media. Try to focus on the trusted sources so you get the most accurate information that’s up to date. Some social media outlets can inflate or deflate a situation to suit their agenda. Use sources like the CDC, WHO or The State Dept. websites.
2. Don’t Panic
Extreme anxiety over health scares are normal during a viral outbreak but it’s really important to stay calm and do not panic. Panicking will not help you think clearly and will not help you make rational decisions. Stay calm, make a plan, and be as preventative as you can.
Stay in contact with family and friends so you can understand the reactions happening at home. Contact the nearest embassy and let them know your whereabouts. They may have valuable advice in situations like this. If you happen to be overseas and a viral outbreak happens and there are travel warnings, you need to not panic, stay informed, and use the above tips to your advantage.
1. If You Have Symptoms, Seek Treatment
Above all else no matter where you are in the world if you have symptoms of a viral outbreak that’s happening in real-time or has just happened always seek treatment immediately. The more quickly you get help the better off you will be. You also will help contain the virus and keep it from spreading.
We hope something like this isnâ€™t happening to you and never happens to you. However, if it does we hope this list helps you prepare before your trip, keeps you safe during your trip and helps you make the best decisions if you get sick. The tips for traveling during a viral epidemic, of course, will change with every new outbreak however if you think we missed something feel free to let us know in the comments.
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