COLUMBUS — As concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19) remain top-of-mind, AAA is offering important advice to travelers.
The decision to travel is a very personal one that must be made by the individual. It’s important for everyone to stay informed and remain vigilant when traveling and heed all official advisories.
The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories for countries throughout the globe. These can be found at Travel.State.gov. Those traveling outside of the United States should check the travel advisories for their intended destination frequently, as conditions can change rapidly or at any time. These advisories are based on a four-tier system:
Level 1: Exercise normal precautions
Level 2: Exercise increased caution
Level 3: Reconsider travel
Level 4: Do not travel (China is currently a Level 4, because of the coronavirus)
Regardless of the destination, travelers should follow the CDC’s recommendations for everyday preventative measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus or other respiratory diseases.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
CDC recommendations for facemasks
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Many areas of the travel industry, including cruise lines and airlines, have also heightened precautions regarding hygiene and cleanliness. For example, most cruise lines are pushing for more frequent handwashing, staff wearing gloves and serving food at buffets, instead of passengers helping themselves, and more cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces.
Those that are still concerned can discuss any upcoming travel plans with their healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at higher risk for the disease. AAA travel counselors are available to assist members with any changes to travel plans or requirements.
Travelers that have purchased travel insurance for upcoming trips should review policies carefully. For travelers booking trips to China and other impacted areas, many travel providers have considered coronavirus a “known event” since Jan. 22. This means coverage exclusions apply for plans purchased after this date. Customers who purchased plans prior to Jan. 22 may still have coverage for a trip booked to China or other impacted areas.
However, the World Health Organization and CDC declared the coronavirus an epidemic on Feb. 3. Many travel protection plans exclude losses caused directly or indirectly by an epidemic, regardless of the travel destination.
“The good news is, many travel providers are offering more flexible cancellation policies, regardless of your travel destination,” said Jeremy Marshall, vice president, Travel for AAA Ohio Auto Club.
For those who purchased a travel protection plan, or are considering purchasing one, AAA recommends talking with a travel agent to fully understand what the plan covers.