We’ve been inundated with queries from concerned travellers wanting to undertsand how safe it is to travel currently during the Covid-19 pandemic. First recognised in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the virus has been reported in over 100 countries – with many more likely to become infected during the coming days & weeks. Much of the sensible advise from well-informed commentators has stated that the risk of contracting Covid-19 is low. In most cases, the disease is not life-threatening and symptoms are not seevere. However, social media is abuzz with untrustworthy ‘facts’ from misinformed sources about the virus and how to protect yourself. So that you don’t follow bad advice, Nomads expert Doctors have put together a blog of responses to some of the myths we’ve seen floating around about Covid-19. Let’s get the facts straight and get some perspective on the situation…
Myth – If one person on a plane or in a train has the disease everybody will be infected
Fact – The risk of contracting Covid-19 is extremely high if you are within 1 metre of an infected person who is openly coughing and sneezing. If an infected individual uses tissues or their inner elbow to catch coughs & sneezes, the risk is considerably lower. It’s important to catch coughs/sneezes even if you do not have symptoms or have been tested for Covid-19 – you may still be carrying the virus and risk infecting vulnerable people.
Myth – International travel is a huge risk and should be avoided completely
Fact – Currently, the risk of contracting Covid-19 from flights or visiting most countries is minimal. Avoid regions where there are very significant numbers of cases being reported, and respect any travel bans currently in place. In most places, the risk of infection remains very small and travel is not discouraged.
Myth – Getting Covid-19 is a death sentence
Fact – As we currently understand, only a small number of those who contract the disease will die. This is mainly in the more vulnerable groups of people – the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Most of those who are infected will suffer Flu like symnptoms that they recover from.
Myth – Covid-19 is more contagious than the Flu or Measles
Fact – Current information shows that Covid-19 is more contagious than Flu, but considerably less contagious than Measles. Annually the Flu infects around 1 billion people and results in over 1/2 million deaths worldwide.
Myth – Covid-19 is the most deadly disease to hit mankind
Fact – Covid-19 is nowhere near the most deadly disease mankind has experienced. Although it’s spreading quickly in some regions and infection rates are high, the mortality rates is 2-3%. For perspective, SARS killed 10% who were infected and MERS killed between 30-40% of thiose who were infected.
Myth – All vaccines are useless against Covid-19
Fact – this one is technically true, however, we know that the most serious cases of Covid-19 are among those with underlying health issues. As with flu, it may not be the virus itself that kills, but rather an associated or secondary bacterial infection. The illness associated with Covid-19 may leave patients at higher risk of other infectious diseases. As such, it is wise to stay up to date with the yearly Flu vaccination, to ensure you’re up to date on regularly advise vaccine for the UK such as MMR (Measles, Munps & Rubella), and to consider Pneumococcal disease, which is a serious infection affecting the respiratory system.
Myth – Hand gels are the best means of protecting myself
Fact – Good quality antibacterial hand-gels are helpful in situations where you cannot wash you hands. However, they are not the best means of protecting yourself. Importantly, hand gels do not work if your hands are visibily soiled or very dirty and should still be preceeded by hand washing. Frequently & thoroughly washing your hands with soap & water, avoiding touching you face, and staying away from anyone with obvious flu-like symptoms are the best ways for you to avoid contracting the virus. Ensure you thoroughly wash your hands after being in public, especially if you use public transport.
Myth – Face masks will protect me from contracting Covid-19
Fact – Unless you use specialist face masks, most do not have an adequeate seal around the edges of the mask to prevent surrounding air from leaking in. Masks are helpful for containing some of the virus particles if you are infected and are coughing, but they need to be changed regularly and carefully otherwise they can be a risk factor. If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you’re caring for someone with suspected Covid-19 infection.
Myth – If I buy food in the supermarket and then boil or cook it for our meals that should kill any virus that might be lurking
Fact- This is true, and is advice we always give to travellers to minimse food transmitted illness. However, you risk infecting food before or after cooking if you’re not washing your hands as regularly as you should. You should be washing your hands after touching anything that may have been infected. Piping hot food is all well and good, but if you prepare it or touch cutlery with contaminated hands, you’re not much better off.
Myth – There is a homeopathy vaccine available
Fact – There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Covid-19 infection and there is certainly no homeopathic or other alternative medicine that is able to prevent Covid-19 infection. A vaccine will not be available for some time as this strain of coronavirus is so new.
Myth – The new coronavirus can be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting Covid-19 cases
Fact – Although Covid-19 can survive on surfaces for a few hours/days (depending on the surface material), it is highly unlikely that the virus will persist on good manufactured in China. Goods will be moved freuqently as they travel and exposed to a variety of conditions and temperatures, which the virus is unlikely to survive. If you are concerned a surface may be contaminated, use a disinfectant to clean it thoroughly. After cleaning the surface, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Myth – Coronavirus Covid-19 can be transmitted through mosquito bites
Fact – There is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 can be transmitted by mosquit bites. Covid-19 is a respiratory virus that spreads through droplets in the saliva and nose discharge of an infected person. The virus is pread when infect people sneeze or cough openly and spread these droplets onto other people and the surfaces around them.
Myth – Eating garlic can prevent Covid-19 infection
Fact – While garlic may have some antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence to suggest eating garlic will protect people from Covid-19 infection. Eating healthy will help boost your immune system, but no food will stop a coronavirus infection.
Myth – Cocaine can protect against a coronavirus
Fact – Cocaine cannot protect against any coronavirus or other infective diseases. It is an addictive, dangerous drug that should not be used under any circumstances.
The most important thing to remember during the outbreak is to be prepared. Whether it’s travelling with some antibacterial cleansers, getting up to date on vaccinations, packing a medical kit or making sure you’ve got adequate travel insurance – taking every step to stay healthy will give you the best chance against Covid-19. Book a consultation for an in-depth discussion on the risks at your destination and to get vaccinated before travel. Our Nurses are well trained to advise on the latest Covid-19 updates. We can also provide remote Coronvirus specific consultations – use our contact form to send your enquiry and we will arrange this with you.