Dr Tangs Advice On Travelling During The Covid Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our worlds, and not just in the short-term. Outside of healthcare, a few industries have been hit massively like travel. However, the scale of the problem cannot be ignored; entire nations have been ordered to stay at home, airlines have gone bankrupt, travel companies are laying off massive amounts of workers, and hotels have even been turned into hospitals. As things start to return to “normal”, travel, especially international travel, looks very different and there are still many precautions we should be taking. We’ve sat down with our GP Dr. Tang to discuss what we should be doing if we are planning to travel any time soon, whether that be for work, to visit family or just for a holiday.

How safe is it to travel abroad? Should you be quarantining when you get back regardless of where you go?

Each country will have their own ways of counting Covid cases. Some countries test a big section of their compliant populations for example, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Germany are doing this. There are differences in opinion on which are the most reliable ways of testing between countries and who should be tested.

Some countries test patients upon entry to hospitals and some offer routine or symptomatic testing. However, some people don’t test and self-isolate at all and therefore the actual amount of cases are unknown. 20% of patients are asymptomatic and thus anybody can be a carrier or infected.

Covid19 is spread via droplet via sneezing/coughing and droplets of covid19 can survive for as long as 5 days on some surfaces. As someone sneezes or coughs the droplets are spread in the air, before it lands onto the surface, during this time its possible someone can breathe it in. Especially in places where there is poor ventilation.

When going abroad, you should be weary of the taxi ride, the airport, the plane, the hotel and all passengers and staff to transport you there. It is important to follow government guidelines until you are alone in your hotel room or in a safe place away from others.

Disease rates can change dramatically in different countries and cities. You can have bigger outbreaks in one city compared to another in the same country due to tourism etc. Please check disease rates in both the country/city you are visiting and government travel advice before you decide to go ahead.

In an ideal world, we should quarantine when we return home to reduce the chances of spreading the virus as it has an incubation period of two weeks and you can be unaware if you have contracted it or not. Experts suspect that there will be a 2nd and 3rd wave and the timings vary in different countries on when it will occur. If you are symptomatic on your return, please consult with the NHS or request a coronavirus test.

Is it safer to stay in the UK for the time being?

Yes, it is safer to refrain from travelling where possible as cases are on the rise in some countries, but there are no outright travel bans at the moment.

British citizens maybe subject to quarantine if current rules changes depending on evolving cases around the world. However, it is a personal choice to put yourself and others at risk. People need to travel for various reasons such as work or visiting family etc. You cannot guarantee that other people are following the rules in different countries and the state of the health care facilities abroad if you were to contract the virus. In a severe situation, survival for Covid can depend on the availability of respiratory specialists, ITU units and ventilators which vary in each country.

 When can travellers truly expect for foreign holidays to go back to normal? Is it even worth looking ahead to next summer or should staycationing stay their best option for the foreseeable future in order to contain the virus?

Some experts say Covid19 is here to stay within the population and will become another annual Flu.  The way we travel, where we travel and how we travel will definitely change and become more strict as different countries have different rules and regulations to follow. Some holidays may still go ahead and some may not depending on the location.

As a vaccine does not exist for Covid19 at the moment, I do not think travelling for a holiday is not worth the risk. You should only travel if it is essential until new treatments become available or cases dramatically drop worldwide.

What countries do i need to self isolate from upon return home to the UK?

Travellers must self-isolate for two weeks upon returning from any of the countries on the quarantine list. If a country stays above 20 cases per 100,000 people for more than seven days it is likely to be added to the UK’s quarantine list.

The key countries/territories on the quarantine list are:

  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • USA
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Bulgaria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands

At Pall Mall, we are offer rapid access to COVID-19 testing with the UK approved antibody test (Abbott) and PCR (Swab) testing for individuals and businesses. For more information click here: https://www.pallmallmedical.co.uk/tests-scans-and-diagnostics/coronavirus-test/

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