Disclaimer: I'm not a licensed medical professional. Please consult your doctor before you take any preventive measures or medication for your personal situation.

 

Ever since the Coronavirus has broken out, many governments have been swift to act by issuing travel notifications and updates. Governments around the world are scrambling to take swift action and evacuate their citizens. There’s no denying that this outbreak has had a substantial impact on travel and trade.

Many governments have placed travel restrictions for inbound and outbound travel in order to make citizens aware of the possible dangers. In such a scenario, how do you plan your travel if you’re a road warrior who constantly travels? What precautions do you need to take if you spend several hours each week on a plane?

Coronavirus Cases

As per the latest data by Reuters, 45,170 cases of the Coronavirus have been reported as of February 11, 2020. As per the reports so far, a total of 1,115 people have died. You can view the full report with the updated data here.

 

Image Credit: Reuters/World Health Organization

Impact on Travel

Airlines and governments have already put restrictions or outright travel bans for flights inbound or outbound flights to China. As per this report by CNN Business, the total loss due to the Coronavirus to the aviation industry is already estimated to cost well upwards of $7 Billion.

Precautionary Measures

A recent report in The Jakarta Post sheds some light on how frequent travelers can take the necessary steps to avoid getting infected. Airplanes like any other shared transportation vehicles are always a dangerous space when it comes to tackling and avoidance of the spread of diseases.

Airline Doctor David Powell, who advises the IATA, lists some of the common steps that you can take, followed by a list of FAQs. I’ve summarized some of the key steps and pieces of advice. You can read the full report here.

  • The virus doesn’t survive for long on airplane seats or armrests. Therefore, physical contact with an infected person in flight poses the greatest risk.
  • Contrary to popular belief, masks and gloves actually aid in the spread of the virus instead of stopping them. Masks can help an infected person by stopping the spread of a virus to others.
  • The best preventive measure that you can take is to keep washing hands periodically.

Does Airplane Seating Matter?

One common question that many people may have is whether specific sections of an airplane would be safer than others when it comes to preventing being infected by the virus. This National Geographic’s report has an interesting take on this question.

The World Health Organization defines contact with an infected person as being seated within two rows of one another.

Here are a few takeaways from the report published by public health researchers:
  • Passengers seated by the window are the least likely to come in contact with an infected person
  • Illnesses are highly likely to be transmitted by one person to another if they’re within one row of an infected person
However, other shared spaces on the plane like the lavatory may be a place where the people have to be careful. As per the report, a lack of activity or movement could actually keep you safer.

This activity helps pinpoint the safest places to sit. The passengers who were least likely to get up were in window seats: only 43 percent moved around as opposed to 80 percent of people seated on the aisle.

Accordingly, window seat passengers had far fewer close encounters than people in other seats, averaging 12 contacts compared to the 58 and 64 respective contacts for passengers in middle and aisle seats.

The Pundit’s Mantra

The Coronavirus outbreak is clearly a reason for concern. We live in the information age. It’s great that we have access to so much information. However, the constant news cycle has also caused a bit of panic amongst the public in various global capitals.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you need to evaluate your options. If you must travel, then I hope some of the suggestions in this article can be handy when you travel next.

How has the Coronavirus outbreak impacted your travel plans? If you’re still flying frequently, what precautions are you currently taking? Let us know in the comments section.

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