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Last Updated: June 25, 2020 

Time: EST 10.08  AM

The current outbreak of deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by  the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been declared pandemic by WHO. It was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. So far, it has made its presence felt across 209 countries or areas in the world. WHO (World Health Organization) Risk Assessment marks it as Very High. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that invades human lung cells: mucus and ones with hair-like batons called cilia. This is a communicable disease that spreads via respiratory droplets expelled during coughing or sneezing.

SITUATION IN NUMBERS

Detailed Report by Country (June 25, EST 10.08 AM)

Confirmed Cases:9,567,682 | New Cases: +48,200 | Deaths: 485,858

New Deaths:+1,899 | Recovered: 5,208,021

[According to Worldometer (a Statistics website by developers, researchers and volunteers]

*New cases and New deaths are the increase in respective values in the last 24 hours

Though the entire economy faces the brunt, travel and tourism industry remains as the worst affected one. Track the airline capacity drops amid COVID-19 outbreak. Repatriation and quarantine of travelers coming from coronavirus-hit areas has become a common phenomenon. Several countries have imposed restriction on entry of travelers from such areas.

Recommendations for International Travelers

1. Avoid travel to affected areas

Postpone travel to areas marked as high risk. Particular elderly and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions should avoid the travel.

2. Practice hand hygiene

Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled.

3. Help in Containing the Infection

Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Disposing immediately of the tissue and perform hand hygiene. Refrain from touching mouth and nose.

4. Medical mask (Optional)

A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms so do not panic due to scarcity of masks in the market. There is little or no evidence that wearing a mask protects non-sick persons. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to adhere to the etiquettes on how to wear, remove and dispose of the masks and on hand hygiene after removal.

5. Eat well-cooked food only

Cooking the food adequately helps you kill the virus, and infection thereof.

6. Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. When a person sneezes or coughs, they expel certain amount of small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

7. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

8. Practice respiratory hygiene

Following a good respiratory hygiene you can help in containing the infection. Cover your mouth or nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

9. Contact a medical facility

If you have fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and any related health issues or find someone with the symptoms, immediately rush to a medical facility to get you diagnosed, and treated, if required.

10. When in an international territory

If you are travelling and got any related symptoms or diagnosed with the infection, contact your embassy in the country and follow the guidelines. Most of the embassies have set up emergency helpline number to assist their citizens cope with any untoward incident. If you are on a flight, get in touch with the crew members.

Airline Ticket Cancellation or Refund

Most of the airlines operating flights to or from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and other regions hit by novel coronavirus have suspended their scheduled flights. They are facilitating dedicated online portal or kiosk to proactively educate travelers of flight status, immigration information, and help them with flight cancellation, refund (future credit only) or ticket changes. The refund is not processed in the monetary term, but in the form of credit that can be used to book ticket within 12 months of the current booking. Cheapfaremart is assisting its customers spontaneously as per the airline’s policy.

Airlines have also relaxed their fare rules allowing passengers to cancel or make changes to ticket even the non-refundable ones for free. The refund amount can be used for future ticket purchases too.

Travelers are encouraged to use the online services to save time on phone calls and over-the-counter processing. Refer to the Travel Advisory of key airlines as mentioned below. If yours is not mentioned, check the travel advisory on its official website:

S. NoAirline’s Official Resource
1American Airlines COVID-19 Advisory
2Delta Air Lines COVID-19 Advisory
3JetBlue Airlines COVID-19 Advisory
4Southwest Airlines COVID-19 Advisory
5United Airlines COVID-19 Advisory

Frequently Asked Questions on Coronavirus

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Fever, tiredness, and dry cough are the common symptoms of the infection. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

Most of the COVID-19 symptoms develop gradually and are mild. In several cases, infected persons do not exhibit any noticeable symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.

These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
Does the COVID-19 virus transmit through the air?

Virus causing COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”

Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. The spread of infection cannot be ruled out as most of the infected people exhibit mild symptoms like cough or sneezing similar to that in the case common cold or influenza.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?

While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, the probability of catching the infection remains low. Experts deny that it can lead to the outbreak as the world faces today. However, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has advised people to be cautious of aerosol or contact transmission of novel coronavirus via feces and urine of infected people.

Should I cancel my travel plan?

No, unless you are visiting COVID-19-hit areas, like Hubei Province (China) that have become the epicentre of the infection. This is what Dr. Carmen Dolea, Head International Health Regulations Secretariat, World Health Organization, also advised travelers in a related discussion. Asserting that prevention is better than cure she recommends them to practice general body and food hygiene as discussed above. You are advised to follow the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How safe are the cabin of aircraft for travel?

All carriers are paying extra attention towards sanitization of the environment. They are treating their interior components as mentioned below with disinfectant.

  • Arm rests
  • Seat belts
  • Tray tables
  • Overhead controls: air vent, light button, call button
  • Exterior and interior door handles to lavatories
  • Front and back of seats
  • Window shades
  • Handles to carry-on compartments

Popular carriers are also offering complimentary hygiene kit (face coverings, sanitizer, etc.), and keeping the middle seat vacation to maintain distance between the travelers.

source:WHO, Worldometers.info (Data as reported to WHO by national authorities by 10:00 CET 26 March 2020)

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