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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Travel in Europe

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Travel in Europe

This was written on 27th Feb 2020 and the links provided are up to date as of this date.

Firstly I want to start by saying I am not a health professional (in any way shape or form) and I have no background in medicine or science. 

What I am is a 30 year old women who lives in Portugal and travels regularly, especially within Europe. I have an upcoming trip to Italy which has prompted many, many hours of online research looking for an answer to the following questions : –

  • Can I still travel in Europe

  • Is it safe to travel in Europe.

What is COVID-19?

According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) ‘COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019’.

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CORONAVIRUS IN EUROPE

The threat of this particular coronavirus (COVID-19) has been on everyone’s mind since it was first announced by China in December.  For those in Asia (particularly China but also in Thailand, South Korea and Japan) it has been at the forefront of daily life since the beginning. But for most people in Europe it has been of little worry until recent weeks when what was just a handful of cases on the continent turned into 1000+ almost overnight. After people heard of the sudden development of 600+ coronavirus cases in Italy the virus became much more of an obvious threat to people in this part of the world.

Like many, I am a member of many travel related Facebook groups and in the last week the amount of Coronavirus related questions that have been rolling in are huge. Those who weren’t panicked are suddenly feeling a twinge of anxiety about upcoming travel plans. 

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WHERE CAN I FIND RELIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IN EUROPE?

When I turned to the internet for answers about the Coronavirus in Europe I was shocked at the amount of contradicting information available for us to consume. 

Like many people interested in traveling in Europe, I am a member of a large number of travel related Facebook groups. Regular posts about COVID-19 have been present for weeks but In the last week they have ramped up hugely. Probably 9 out of 10 posts submitted are in relation to Coronavirus and whether or not it is safe to travel. Understandably people want the answers to the same questions I do. Unfortunately much of what is shared in response to these questions is unhelpful to say the least. At the very best answers are assumptions and at the very worse are downright lies. I found it very hard to find information from reliable sources so I started to do my own research. 

Here is the most reliable and unbiased information about COVID-19 and traveling I have found.

WHO (World Health Organisation) 


Unsurprisingly this is the best website to collect information about COVID-19.  It also has a very useful Q&A section.  

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

THE CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

For me this has been the most useful for planning travel. The website offers very clear and precise information on which countries you can and cannot travel to at this time. They also use an easy to read 3 level system which can help you decide on the best course of action when it come to planning (or canceling) your upcoming travel. This is a government website designed to provide you with factual information. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

For European specific information about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china

CNA MAP

This is a live map of current COVID-19 cases around the world including Europe. The map has been created by Channel News Asia so bare that in mind but it is a very good way to see which countries have and haven’t been affected by this Coronavirus. 

https://infographics.channelnewsasia.com/covid-19/map.html

LONELY PLANET

Perhaps not where you would automatically look for information about COVID-19 but I found this article provided a very good summary especially when I was asking the question ‘Should I cancel my upcoming trip?”

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/should-i-cancel-travel-plans-coronavirus

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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) IN ITALY

I wanted to provide a small section on Italy in particular as my upcoming trip to the country is what prompted me to research and write this blog. I have a short trip planned to Palermo in Sicily and Naples in Campania in about 4 week’s time. As where I am traveling is not directly affected by COVID-19 at the moment I haven’t canceled yet.  I have however been keeping a very close eye on both the CDC website and gov.uk website for Italy travel updates. If suddenly travel is not advised for the areas I am visiting I will obviously cancel. For anyone who has an upcoming trip to Italy and is worried about the virus make sure you keep up to date here :

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy

The following except is from the gov.uk website.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo), which have been isolated by the Italian authorities due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government of Italy has introduced extraordinary measures that allow regions to implement civil protection measures in response to coronavirus, including the isolation of these towns. 

If CDC or GOV.UK advise against all but essential travel, cancel and come back another time. It is really is not with the risk and your insurance will not cover you in any case. 


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SHOULD I STILL TRAVEL IN EUROPE?

I obviously cannot give you that answer to this question but I hope some of the reliable websites above can help you make a decision about whether or not you should travel during this Coronavirus outbreak. Here are a few tips that may help you plan at this time.

USE THE WEBSITES PROVIDED

Once you have consulted these websites you will be armed with factual information and the tools you need to plan your travel accordingly.

AVOID MISINFORMATION/ SCAREMONGERING

There are a lot of clickbait articles out there right now. Try to avoid overconsumption of this type of press as it will only help cause panic.

PREPARE TO CHANGE LAST MINUTE

The COVID-19 outbreak is developing quickly so you should not be surprised if situations change when it comes to travel guidance within Europe. Now would be a good time to find comprehensive travel insurance  and check if you are covered in the event quarantine, cancellation etc. Don’t forget to choose refundable hotels and flights for any upcoming trips too.

TRUST YOUR GUT

If all but essential travel is recommended don’t go. If there are no travel restrictions put in place you can obviously still travel but if your instincts are kicking in and making you feel uneasy or you feel like traveling during this time would not be enjoyable cancel and re-book another time. 



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As I mentioned at the beginning I am not qualified to give you advice on Coronavirus and travel in Europe but hopefully the information provided by the websites I have offered above will give you the information you actually need. 

If anyone has any other reliable and useful websites you think would be beneficial to add to this post please feel free to email me – hello@soi55lifestyle.com