5 Things Every Traveler Should Do To Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus

Lois Alter Mark
4-5 minutes
ISRAEL-SKOREA-HEALTH-VIRUS-CHINA
AFP via Getty Images
With the threat of coronavirus hanging over every trip, travelers are debating whether to cancel their plans and are looking for ways to stay safe and healthy around the world.
But, despite the fact that the coronavirus is poised to become a pandemic, experts are not advising travelers to stay home – unless they’re heading to China, South Korea, Japan or Italy.  (Check the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites for the most up to date information as the coronavirus is unpredictable.)
“The CDC believes the immediate risk is low at this time, and it’s not necessary to stop traveling,” said Lane Tassin, M.D., FastMed Urgent Care Chief Medical Officer, Western Region. “But whenever you travel, precautions are always recommended to avoid any illness. Airports are high-risk sites for the acquisition of infectious diseases because crowded conditions with commonly touched surfaces like counters, kiosks and escalator handles make it easy for infections to spread.”
According to Raj Dasgupta, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) Department of Internal Medicine, the most likely ways to contract coronavirus while traveling are “exposure to sick people and not practicing good hand hygiene.”
You may not have much control over the first one but you can definitely master the second.
Here are five simple actions you can take to lower your risks. If every traveler did these, it would make a significant difference.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Global Hand Washing Day In Indonesia
Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
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This is probably the single most important thing you can do. Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, after coughing or sneezing, after using the restroom, after shaking hands with other people and after touching common surfaces.
Wash with soap and warm water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? The CDC suggests humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Use hand sanitizer
Alcoholbased hand sanitizer gels have significantly reduced the spread of gastrointestinal infectio
Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
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Is hand sanitizer a substitute for soap and water? “NO!” warns Dr. Gasputa. “Given the choice, you should always wash your hands with soap and water. But when they’re not readily available and your hands are not visibly dirty, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Use it in the same situations which you would wash your hands.”
Toss a TSA-friendly hand sanitizer in your carry-on and keep one handy in your pocket, purse or hung on your backpack while you’re out sightseeing.
Wipe down screens
Wipe down that airplane screen, tray and seat.
Wipe down that screen, tray and seat!
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“Common surfaces touched by others are a potential source of infection,” according to Dr. Tassin. “Wipe down plane seats, screens, trays and belts with alcohol-based hand sanitizing wipes.”
Because it’s not practical to wipe down every public thing you’re going to touch – bannisters, doors, credit card pads, stylus pens, elevator buttons – make sure you wipe down your hands afterwards instead. Better yet, wash them with soap and water.
Stop touching your face
Keep your hands away from your face.
Keep your hands away from your face.
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This is easier said than done but it goes a long way toward not spreading the germs you may have picked up on your hands.
Try to be aware and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cough into your elbow
Do NOT sneeze into your hands!
Do NOT sneeze into your hands!
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For everyone’s sake, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – and don’t cover it with your hand. Optimally, you should cough and sneeze into a tissue, then throw out the tissue and wash your hands. Since you’re unlikely to have a tissue ready, though, the CDC recommends coughing and sneezing into the crook of your elbow or sleeve.
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