I will be travelling for more than 13 hours through South East Asia, most of the time in a crowded environment like airplane or transiting at the airport. What precautions should I take to reduce the chances of contracting any contagious disease, such as Corona Virus COVID-19?
In February, I flew into Singapore through Seoul, and back the same way to Toronto. Singapore had a jump in cases just as we arrived; Seoul's jump was happening while we were in Singapore. Here is what we did:
- hand washing pretty much every chance we got. (I say pretty much because if you walk a long way in an airport you will walk past multiple bathrooms; we didn't go in to each and every one and have a wash.) But we did sometimes go and wash even though we didn't need to use the bathroom. For example, every time we returned to our hotel room after being out.
- hand sanitizer after handling money, before eating, or when sitting waiting
- use sanitizing wipes to clean the airplane screen and trays immediately on getting to the seats. I should have done the seatbelt and arm rests too and will on my next trip.
- try to pay by credit card, using contactless, and holding my own card instead of handing it to someone to tap for me, whenever possible. Avoid cash -- it really is filthy
- don't touch handrails and other "public" surfaces unless you actually need them for support. Keep your hands to yourself as much as you can. In Singapore there was a lot of wiping going on, but in other places I have not seen that
- really try to touch your face less. It's hard, you just need to watch videos of people telling you not to touch their face while people behind them touch their faces, and then moments later the speaker does too. It's hard. That's why all the handwashing and hand sanitizing is important
- if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or your elbow to confine it, so as to cause less distress to those around you and lower overall stress - to do this, you'll need a loose tissue in your pocket that you can grab quickly. If there's no nearby garbage, you'll need another pocket you can designate for dirty tissues. When you see a garbage, empty the dirty pocket and sanitize your hands to lessen the chance you're passing anything along.
- monitor your temperature. In Singapore this was done for me many times a day. On return home I checked my temperature twice a day or so for 14 days to be sure I was not running a fever.
- tell the truth when you come home. Don't be that person who lies about where they have been.
In addition, at least one friend has taken a laptop on vacation, not because she might need it during the vacation, but in case she was quarantined in her destination or on return before she could get to her home.
There are enough cases in Ontario now that when I go to Toronto and ride the public transit, I'm going to take all these same precautions. This is really not just a travel issue any more.
It really depends on where you intend to travel to and from.
WHO has published this public advice where they recommended to:
1) Wash your hands regularly
2) Don't touch your face
3) When possible stay at least 1 m away from other people, particularly those displaying symptoms of flu or cold
4) If you have concerns seek medical attention soon
Also they advise that wearing a face mask is not necessary and it is only really required if you yourself have symptoms (to protect people around you) or you are traveling with someone who has symptoms. But if you feel the need to wear one (so as not to stand out from panicking crowd), here's WHO advice on how to use face masks correctly.