The latest strain of the coronavirus, COVID-19, has overtaken many of our news and social feeds for the last few weeks. But how many of these stories are actually true? Could it be possible these sources are spreading undue fear of the coronavirus without sharing all the facts?
To help in putting your mind at ease here are some grounding facts from authoritative sources, including Harvard University and the World Health Organization, about the coronavirus. Hopefully, this will help you to think more clearly about COVID-19 and to make more sound decisions regarding travel.
Most Asked Questions Regarding the Coronavirus & Travel
How does the coronavirus spread?
The coronavirus spreads by coughs or sneezes from a contaminated person. To get the coronavirus, someone needs to inhale these small water droplets, which means you have to be in close proximity to a sick person. COVID-19 is not an air-borne disease, as once thought.
How likely am I to get the coronavirus if I’m traveling?
This largely depends on where you’re traveling. The Department of State provides a thorough list of travel advisories for each country, which should report if a country is restricted for travel or not. Check your destination for its travel warning, and you can make an educated decision to travel or not based on any travel warnings you may find.
Is there a greater risk of getting the coronavirus on an airplane?
WHO informs travelers that plane cabins are not dangerous for contracting the coronavirus. Since the virus is not spread through the air, sitting on a plane with circulating air will not increase your risk of getting the coronavirus. You can always take precautions for guarding against sickness, including proactive handwashing.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself against the coronavirus?
WHO recommends that those displaying respiratory symptoms of the coronavirus coughing and sneezing should wear a protective mask. However, they do not claim that wearing a mask will aid the unaffected to stay healthy. If you do wear a mask, you need to make sure it’s the respirator kind and that it fits properly.
Can the coronavirus live on surfaces?
Is there a drug or vaccine for the coronavirus?
CDC says there is no drug or vaccine for the coronavirus currently. However, there’s a vaccination for influenza, yet countless of those inoculated still get the flu. Simply having a vaccination is not the end all cure--literally. Having a healthy immune system paired with plenty of water and rest can do wonders at healing the human body.
Should I cancel my trip due to the coronavirus?
The undue panic from the coronavirus has caused travelers to question whether it’s safe to still take their trip, and it certainly is still safe to travel. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there shouldn’t be any travel or trade restrictions due to the Coronoavirus. However, you have to make an educated decision that works best for you and what you’re comfortable with.
Common Myths Surrounding the Coronavirus
With the exponential buzz about the coronavirus, it’s no wonder people are circulating myths as fact. To ease your mind, here are some common myths getting shared about the coronavirus that are simply not true.
Myth #1: Everyone who gets the coronavirus will die.
Since there have been over 113,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 4000 recorded deaths. Those most at a mortality risk are over 80 years old with prior medical complications including cardiovascular issues, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
Myth #2: The coronavirus is the most dangerous virus in human history.
If you think back to the SARS epidemic in 2003, that virus had a mortality rate of nearly 10%. Similarly, MERS in 2015 had a fatality rate of 34%. According to current studies of the coronavirus outbreak, it only has an estimated fatality rate of 3.4%. WebMD reveals that influenza, the most common virus we face, causes more deaths annually. So coronavirus is certainly not the deadliest of the recent virus outbreaks.
Myth #3: Wearing a mask keeps me safe from the coronavirus.
Surgical masks worn by your typical dentist will not protect you from the coronavirus. Even if someone has the right type of mask, many civilians do not know how to wear them properly. Healthcare workers often wear a N95 mask, which acts as a respirator. It’s proven to filter foreign particles with 95% efficacy; however, if the mask is to work properly, you need to fit the mask to your face. When medical professionals use these masks around sick patients, they undergo tests to ensure it fits properly and the seal isn’t compromised. Otherwise, the mask will not help protect against illness.
Myth #4: I could get the coronavirus from a package sent from China.
Researchers are studying the new coronavirus to learn more about how it infects people. scientists note that most viruses like this one do not stay alive for very long on surfaces, so it is not likely you would get COVID-19 from a package that was in transit for days or weeks. The illness is most likely transmitted by droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough, but more information is emerging daily.
Myth #5: Taking herbal remedies can keep you safe from the coronavirus.
Although you can always take proactive steps to naturally boost your immune system, there is little evidence that herbal remedies can protect you from contracting a coronavirus. Protecting yourself is easy. The best way to protect yourself while traveling is through proper hygiene—frequently washing hands, avoiding touching unwashed hands to the face and liberal use of hand sanitizer.
Best Authoritative Sources for Coronavirus Updates
If you want to find the most accurate updates on the coronavirus, social media might not be the place to check. If you want to find trustworthy news on the coronavirus, consider turning to an authoritative source. Here are a few institutions that many people trust.
Harvard Health Publishing
Harvard Health Publishing derives from the minds of over 10,000 highly educated physicians at Harvard Medical School. This trusted health news source released an article about the coronavirus. The author warns against myths regarding the coronavirus, and encourages readers to be cautious about sources on social media, where anything can get blown out of proportion.
John Hopkins Medicine
John Hopkins Medicine sets a standard of excellence by pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery and medical education. The director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins compares the coronavirus to influenza. Although onset symptoms can appear similar, the fatality rates are increasingly different.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO directs and coordinates international health within the United Nations system to project people into a better and healthier future across the globe. WHO released a video about common questions regarding the coronavirus and travel.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC gives a bold promise to America to protect our health, safety, and security around the clock. They provide a three-tiered level system to evaluate the risk of nonessential travel to certain destinations. Check out their resources if you’re curious about the risk of the coronavirus associated with your travel destination.
Final Thoughts on the Coronavirus
It’s quite possible that fear and panic over the coronavirus are more prevalent than the actual sickness. Be cautious like you would any other time you were to travel, research the location you’re heading to, and always be safe.
Sources: 1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html 2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html 3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html 4. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses 5. https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd 6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/be-careful-where-you-get-your-news-about-coronavirus-20200201188017