Travelling during the coronavirus scare? Here's what you need to know
From face masks to where you should sit on the plane…
It’s almost impossible not to have heard of the coronavirus (or Covid-19) at this point in time. Countries worldwide are expending massive efforts to try to contain the spread, and many travel plans have been affected as a result, from flight and hotel cancellations to travel bans.
So, what if you’re planning on travelling in the next few weeks? Here’s what you need to know:
Dubai Airport Screening
Dubai authorities implement strict screening measures and conduct medical check-ups for passengers arriving at Dubai Airports as precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus “COVID-19” into the UAE. pic.twitter.com/qJwWOyEcvG
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) March 2, 2020
On Monday, March 2, Dubai Media Office posted a video to their official Twitter account to show the strict measures being taken by Dubai International Airport (DXB) to screen passengers for coronavirus. The video disclosed that measures include ‘passengers arriving at Dubai Airports go through a full non-intrusive thermal screening’, whereas, ‘passengers from countries with high infection counts are being screened twice’.
They also assured that ‘Dubai Health Authority staff are at the airport 24/7, conducting tests right there at the site, whenever needed’ and that ‘hospitals are fully prepared to handle any confirmed cases’.
Likelihood of flight cancellations
A number of flight cancellations have happened across the globe, including many flights to China. Flights to other areas reported to have been heavily-affected by the virus have also been cancelled. From the UAE, all flights to China other than Beijing have been suspended, as well as any flights from Dubai Airports to Bahrain. The last social update from the Emirates support team was on their official Twitter account:
Due to the temporary suspension of Air Services between Dubai & Bahrain, the following Emirates flights have been cancelled on 25 & 26 February:
For more details, please visit:https://t.co/aqWqucRFnB
— Emirates Support (@EmiratesSupport) February 25, 2020
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As with any international travel, make sure to keep an eye out for any travel updates on your email accounts or the airlines’ official social media pages and websites.
Should you wear a face mask?
There have been a number of debates about the effectiveness of wearing a face mask to ward against the COVID-19 virus when travelling. The official advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection or are coughing and sneezing”. They also advised using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water regularly.
Where should you sit on the plane?
Some reports even suggest that nabbing a window seat on the plane can reduce your chance of infection. According to the Daily Mail, a report was conducted by Emory University on the best habits to undertake during a plane journey to avoid the risk of infection.
Worldwide travel bans have not been put into place, however there have been some restrictions from the UAE on Emirati citizens. These include a travel ban on Emirati citizens travelling to Iran or Thailand, and the UAE Embassy in Rome has asked Emirati citizens not to travel to Italy in wake of the coronavirus outbreak there. It is best for those concerned to check with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs for any updated information.
Although minimal cases of coronavirus have been reported in the UAE, a number of UAE events have been cancelled to reduce large public gatherings. Today, Tuesday March 3, it was announced that the Ultra Abu Dhabi festival, due to take place this weekend, had been cancelled. Other events due to take place in the UAE that have also been cancelled or postponed include: Russ at Coca-Cola Arena has been postponed to November 27, Dubai International Boat Show has been pushed back to November 2020, DJ Mag Conference has been cancelled and Dubai Lynx will be rescheduled for September, 2020.