Outbreaks of respiratory illnesses occur regularly throughout the world. These can be associated with many different types of ‘bugs’ including viral illnesses (Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Whooping Cough etc), bacterial illnesses (Pneumonia, Meningitis, Tuberculosis, Legionnaires, Anthrax, Diphtheria etc) and fungal diseases (Histoplasmosis, Aspergillosis etc).
In recent times, the world has seen a number of specific illnesses which have moved very rapidly from the initial location to a distant country within a matter of days due to the ease of international travel and the lack of specific symptoms in the first few days of an illness. This was particularly evident during the COVID SARS epidemic in 2003 and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first cases of coronavirus COVID-19 were reported in China in December 2019. Since then, over 187 countries and territories throughout the world have reported positive cases.
According to the WHO, the COVID-19 virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets and contact routes or by airborne transmission.
These are different due to the sizes of the particles involved and following an analysis of over 75,000 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported. The primary route of infection is regarded to be droplets and contact with infected surfaces.
To help avoid respiratory illnesses while travelling, such as COVID-19, it is important for to follow local regulations and government travel advice. Some recommended ways to stay safe from COVID-19 on your travels include wearing face coverings in public spaces where social distance cannot be maintained and ensuring good hand hygiene.
The World Health Organization, along with governments all over the world, has stressed the importance of keeping good hand hygiene to protect against Coronavirus. This is because, depending on the surface type, when droplets land on the surface they can remain active for several hours. Because of this, it is recommended to sanitize or regularly wash hands with warm soapy water, to reduce the risk of becoming infected by this method. Carrying an alcohol-based hand gel is a great way to reduce the spread of the virus while on-the-go. It’s also important to touching as few surfaces as possible and avoiding touching your face with unclean hands.
When travelling, you should also follow government guidelines on social distancing and face coverings, which can vary country-to-country.
While the WHO has since announced an end to the global emergency caused by COVID-19, it is still important for travelers to be aware of that and other respiratory illnesses when travelling and take precautions where necessary.
For more information on Avoiding Respiratory Illness when Travelling please click here.