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Is it safe to travel these days?

Timo Uustal

While Americas were united in celebrating Thanksgiving earlier this week, approaching Christmas and New Year Eve period is often also time for long commutes to get families together. And while some countries are opening up for tourists as well, it is still good idea to follow precautions.

Kacey Ernst PhD MPH and Paloma Beamer PhD have shared at Ideas.TED what you should consider while travelling during current COVID19 pandemic.

The primary concern with flying — or traveling by bus or train — is sitting within two metres (six feet) of an infected person. Remember: Even asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people people can transmit. Your risk of infection directly corresponds to your dose of exposure, which is determined by your duration of time exposed and the amount of virus-contaminated droplets in the air.

Long flights, train and bus rides put many people together into common space, where they are sharing the same air. But that's not all. Consider also contaminated surfaces.

When an infected person contaminates a shared armrest, airport restroom handle, seat tray or other item, the virus can survive for hours, although it does degrade over time. If you touch that surface and then touch your mouth or nose, you put yourself at risk of infection.

So, there are number of aspects to consider. Firstly, consider if there is really a need to travel in the first place. But if you do travel, there are many ways to make it safer:

  • Bring hand wipes to disinfect your seat belt and your personal belongings, like your passport.
  • Bring plastic ziplock bags for personal items that others may handle, such as your ID. Bring extra bags so you can put these objects in a new bag after you have the chance to disinfect them.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as often as you can and always after you touch surfaces. While soap and water are most effective, hand sanitizer is helpful after you wash to get any parts you may have missed.
  • Wait in the airport or station area as far away from others as possible.
  • Once you get to your window seat, stay put. Turn your face towards the window, and turn on your air vent fully. This may shower you with clean air and disperse any viral particles.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Do not eat on the plane/train/bus, and minimize your drinking.
  • Avoid using the lavatory on the plane/train/bus as this increases the number of people you will be within close distance.
  • If there is someone seated near you that is refusing to wear a mask or eating without a mask or talking loudly, don’t try to argue or reason with them. That can increase your face-to-face contact and your exposure due to increased respiration rates during those moments. Instead, ask the flight/train attendant if you can move to another seat.
  • We don’t recommend the use of gloves. They can lead to a false sense of security, they’ve been associated with reduced hand hygiene practices, and they may even lead to greater contamination of your belongings like your phone, tickets and ID.

Read more on the topic at https://ideas.ted.com/is-it-safe-to-fly-two-scientists-tell-you-what-you-need-to-know/

If you have more travel health related questions on your mind, let us know at hello@nursebeam.com

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