Should You Cancel Your Trip Because Of The Coronavirus?

Should You Cancel Your Trip Because Of The Coronavirus?
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If you’re thinking about cancelling your travel plans due to the spread of the coronavirus, it’s worth asking yourself three questions:

  1. Am I planning to travel to a high-risk area?

  2. Am I at elevated risk of contracting coronavirus?

  3. Do I currently feel well, or am I sleep-deprived, rundown, or fighting off a bug?

Dr. Manish Trivedi, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Centre, suggests that anxious travellers start by checking their local coronavirus travel hub, which includes a restricted travel list. Currently the U.S. health department recommends avoiding travel to China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy, and potentially avoiding travel to Japan if you are an older adult or have a chronic medical condition.

The Australian government has restricted travel between South Korea, China and Iran.

But what if you’re planning to travel somewhere else? “International travel to countries that are not reporting widespread transmission of the coronavirus is probably still low-risk for most travellers,” Dr. Trivedi told me. “I know some of my patients have postponed international trips simply for their peace of mind, and, for them, that was the right decision.”

If you decide to continue with your travel plans, remember to do your part to protect yourself from both the coronavirus and other communicable illnesses: make sure you’re washing your hands correctly, avoid touching your face, and consider wiping down your aeroplane seat, seatbelt, and tray table.

Dr. Trivedi has one more tip: “If you feel sick, stay at home.” This will not only help you recover from whatever you’re currently fighting off (without running the risk of contracting coronavirus on top of that), but it will also protect everyone else from catching whatever you’ve got. Trivedi also urges everyone to boost their immune systems by getting enough sleep—so whether you end up staying at home or jetting off to a hotel, try to prioritise both rest and health as much as possible.


  • Is it safer to stay at home and continue working as a service worker with exposure to overseas clients, or to travel overseas during a time when aircraft and tourist attractions are mostly empty or uncrowded?

  • Significant risk factors to consider are your age, general health and the current incidence of the virus in the country you are intending to visit and the level of health facilities that are normally available there, which may well be overwhelmed anyway.

    What you should also consider is the worst scenario that is likely considering the above and what your plan would be if that happened. It makes a big difference if you are travelling as a tourist to a place where you don’t know the language, have no family and will be living in a hotel, rather than visiting family or friends.

    Think a bit about one possible scenario, it is on the worst case end of the spectrum but definitely not the worst. Consider it, and what you would do in that situation, do you have a viable plan that you think you can execute if it happens. It is not just the risk of contracting the virus to consider but you actually need a plan or be able to live (or otherwise) with the consequences.

    Irrespective of your risk profile, consider the situation where you contract the virus but your symptoms are not severe. You should self isolate in your hotel room for 14 days. Some hotel rooms have a kettle and a fridge. So how do you get food, you shouldn’t be going to a supermarket and infecting others. Room service (food delivery service) for 2 weeks if it is available. Local TV will be quite amusing for 10 minutes, no wifi no entertainment for 2 weeks. The hotel you stay in will become very important. You will need to extend your stay indefinitely, is that possible? Try checking into a hotel when you are already sick, you might be turned away.

    So your symptoms get worse and you need to visit a hospital. Assuming they are not overwhelmed and you are admitted, only a few of the staff understand you and they are very busy. If you need a ventilator you probably won’t get one because they will be all utilised. You are still well enough to contact your family back home to tell them you are going to hospital, a family member may be able to come to help you in this situation you have landed in, in a few days. It could be worse.

    You will not be able to jump on a plane and go back home if you have symptoms. You will not be allowed on a plane. Quarantine when you get home would be fine, but the government is not going to be sending Qantas to pick up every traveller who gets sick. After release from hospital you will have to go to a hotel and chill for some time to get your strength back.

    If you are lucky to have a travel companion to help you, they are however very unlucky to have you as a companion.

    If however you have already contracted the virus and recovered the cheap travel and no crowds is an unparalleled opportunity.

    I have been in hospital in foreign countries a number of times, once in an isolation ward, I wrote my will, and most of family was on the other side of the world. It is not pleasant.

    I am not advising anyone not to travel, rather think about what you would do if it doesn’t go well. You need a plan that is viable. If you cannot make a viable plan then you need to think some more, because it is possible you are setting yourself up to be in a very bad situation.

    You don’t just need medical insurance. You need to have telephone numbers for services that help travellers. They make an enormous difference, it means you often get over-serviced and over-pay because the insurance company is paying, and they know it, but that is not your concern when you are sick. So you need a good credit card limit, depending on where you are travelling a $10,000 limit may not be enough. If you are sick you will find it difficult to cope with much. Look for an insurance (credit card?) company that provides contact numbers for these sorts of services, they do all the running around for you finding doctors, pharmacies and hospitals.

    So also plan on having plenty of money available. When you have a plan for how to handle what is very possible to happen you will be in a better position to evaluate whether the travel is necessary, a good risk or maybe even a bargain.

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