Coronavirus seems to be the main topic in the news media lately. World leaders are being asked about what they are doing to safeguard their citizens. Doctors are being interviewed about how we can stay healthy. Schools are closing, events are being cancelled. Even airlines have begun grounding parts of their fleet.
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is certainly a growing concern for people as it is said to be about 20 times more lethal than the common flu. There are outbreak hotspots in China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy with a growing number of countries reporting cases of infection and a growing number of deaths.
With symptoms that seem like the common cold or flu, there is much worry in the international community. Governments are quarantining entire cities and imposing travel restrictions to try to protect their population. People also are preparing for an emergency by stockpiling non-perishable foods and essentials for up to 14-days (the quarantine period) in the worst case scenario. But, is it safe to be traveling during the global Coronavirus outbreak?
What is Coronavirus?
According to the CDC, Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that are known to be in people and animals. Most infections caused by a Coronavirus are not dangerous. The current virus that is taking over the news media likely originated in bats. The epicenter of the epidemic is a live animal market in Wuhan, China where someone likely came in contact with the blood of an infected bat. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the current international Coronavirus outbreak to COVID-19 (COroniaVIrus Disease 2019??)
Symptoms include fever, cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, and other symptoms resembling the common cold or flu. The danger is if the infection spreads to the respiratory system, causing pneumonia.
Who is at risk?
Obviously if you are live or are traveling to an outbreak hotspot, that puts you at risk. However, age and state of health of a person is also a determining factor for high-risk of complications caused by COVID-19. Even your job can put you at higher risk; especially those who work in healthcare and care for anyone infected with the virus. WebMD states that the elderly (60+?), those with heart disease, or weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of complications if COVID-19 is contracted.
Is North Africa Safe?
It seems to me that no country is immune to the potential of Coronavirus infections. There are reported cases of infections on every inhabited continent (save Antarctica). There have been reported cases of COVID-19 in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Each of these countries responded by closing their land borders, suspending international flights and imposing a general lockdown in the country.
We encourage all travelers to check their destinations (and any connection points) for travel advisories. Here is a list of where you can look up if your destination has a travel advisory.
- Travel Advisories for Canadian Citizens
- Travel Advisories for United States Citizens
- Travel Advisories for United Kingdom Citizens
- Travel Advisories for Australian Citizens
Of course, there are basic things that we can all do to keep ourselves and family members safe and healthy from Coronavirus. Healthcare professionals encourage all of us to wash our hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds. Also, they recommend us to avoid touching our faces including our mouths and eyes as these are entry points for the virus into our bodies. Lastly, we must stay hydrated. Being in environments with recycled air like airplanes, airports, and hotels dry out our bodies. Drinking plenty of fluids, water being the best, is a great way to give ourselves the best opportunity to travel well.
If you must cancel your travel plans, we hope that you have purchased trip insurance that will cover the costs of your airfare, hotels, and other bookings. Not all travel insurance policies allow for reimbursement if the client cancels but reimbursement from vendors are possible if the vendors make changes or cancellations to your bookings.
A few insurance companies with great reputations are:
- Seven Corners Travel Insurance
- American Express Travel Insurance
- Allianz Travel
Also, some credit cards include some kind of trip protection as a service for their clients if you used the card for travel bookings.
Some airlines are also waiving change fees due to Coronavirus. Here are just a few policies we found:
Delta, United: book in March and have 12 months for changes fee-free
Air France: free changes for all destinations till as late as May 31, 2021
Traveling with Mosaic North Africa
If you have booked a tour with us and have made payments, we would love to remain your travel provider in North Africa. We would ask that you consider rescheduling your tour with us first. We can apply your payments to a future tour with the only additional cost being the annual cost adjustments necessary for us to remain competitive.