If you have a dream trip planned for 2020, the past few weeks may have put you off travelling. Covid-19 has created a storm, however, before getting into some cool places you can still easily travel to, let’s bring some perspective and look at the trajectory of the virus to date.
The first thing to remember is that this isn’t an apocalyptic disease. Yes, older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, lung complaints or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness and are more vulnerable. However, with a mortality rate of 3.4%, the chances of recovery are pretty high. Remember, of the first 425 confirmed deaths across mainland China, 75% had some form of an underlying disease.
In the below diagram, we can clearly see the extent of the problem in China, so probably not the number one destination on the list. South Korea, Iran, and Italy are also embargo destinations for most governments too. So you’ll have to hold fire on a K-Pop experience till 2021.
But won’t it spread really quickly? Well, we’re seeing isolated cases showing up from Mexico to Monaco, however looking at the chart below, Asia and Europe have the most number of countries reporting cases. Central, South and North America, in relative terms, have had lower exposure to the virus to date.
It’s also worth noticing that smaller island nations have had no cases reported. The Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Barbados, Antigua all have economies reliant on tourism, so the flow of people is constant. Is it that they have superb control measures in place? Possibly. Combine that with only 0.08% of reported cases found in the southern hemisphere, maybe Coronavirus doesn’t like going south of the equator 😊
Source of above data – https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries. Data referenced on the 5th March 2020.
So where is sensible to go to?
First of all, remember this is an ever-changing situation. Today, it may be safer to go to one place and that could change the next day. However, of all the places that seem to be less exposed to the virus along with having a constant tourist stream, then here are a few ideas.
The Maldives with its hundreds of tiny islands could be a great way to find a quiet, isolated resort with just a handful of people. With most resorts on the smaller side, somewhere like the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru with only 40 villas means there probably won’t be any more than 100 guests staying when it’s full. Fly direct if possible to reduce the duration you’re spending on a confined aircraft. If there is a case of Coronavirus and your island is on lockdown, it’s not a bad place to be stuck now is it?
Mauritius is yet to report any cases of Covid-19. This tropical island lies off the African coast and with plenty to do, makes for a great family or honeymoon destination. With direct flights on British Airways and Air Mauritius, direct flights are available. Check out the laid back Shangri-la Le Tousserok for a summer break away.
The Caribbean has been relatively unscathed so far, especially the Antillies and Winward Islands such as Antigua, Barbados and Grenada. Whilst halal dining options are very limited, if you are happy to go vege or seafood for a week, then it’s a great trade-off for some confidence in your safety.
Seychelles, located in the heart of the Indian Ocean is a collection of beautiful islands designed to make Muslim travellers fall in love with nature. The turquoise blue waters are absolutely mesmerising, combined with white sandy beaches and gorgeous rainforests. If you’re looking for a halal-friendly honeymoon or a family hideaway then the Seychelles may be just for you.
Zanzibar with it’s stunning beaches, intriguing culture, and friendly people – this island has all of these. The country has become famously known for Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, and Zanzibar. Whilst cases in Africa are very isolated, so far there has not been any reports of cases from Zanzibar.
What should I do about flying?
Well, you’ll most likely need to fly to your destination, especially the suggestions above. Here are our top tips to keep safe when flying
Some of the most germ-ridden places in an airport are at security. Think about it, the constant rotation of trays where you’ve just placed your phone, shoes being removed and put into those trays and the rush to gather all your belongings at the end. It’s no surprise you forget to wash your hands after all that. Grab your gear, head to the nearest loo and wash those hands, or use a hand sanitiser.
How often are the seats on an aircraft cleaned? Maybe at the end of each day, or how about the end of each round trip? Nope, they get a deep clean once a month to six weeks. So if you’re flying on a low-cost airline, just imagine how many people have sat in that seat. So rather than treating your airline seat like your sofa at home, give it a quick wipe including the tray table (super important) and the armrests. No need to go too crazy with the cleaning, just be wary of what’s in the gaps and crevices before you decide to eat the pretzel you just dropped.
How is it spread and how can I protect myself?
Keeping your hands clean is the first line of defence!
Like the common cold and flu bugs, the virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.
Also try to avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. If you’re getting off public transport then before you go and touch your phone, keys, or apple, use a hand sanitiser which is an easy way to kill any germs on your hands. If you go to the loo on an aircraft, then remember to hand sanitise when you get back to your seat – not everyone washes their hands after they go to the loo 🤢