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Should I cancel or postpone travel because of coronavirus?

Hopes that Coronavirus will be contained in China have been dashed as new cases keep springing up at different parts of the world. Nigeria in Sub- Saharan Africa announced its first case of Coronavirus about a week ago.

As coronavirus continues to spread, business big names like Nestle, L’Oreal, Unilever and a host of others have started to ban business travels for hundreds of thousands of their employees. Twitter has also suspended the CEO Jack Dorsey’s planned keynote interview this month at the South by Southwest conference in Texas, due to coronavirus.

The restrictions are piling pressure on airlines and the broader travel industry, which faces a monthly hit of more than $46 billion from the coronavirus, according to the Global Business Travel Association, Washington, D.C. Coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate.

According to WHO, there are over 81,109 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and 2,761 deaths, mostly in China. Some countries have issued travel advisory to China and Asia, but no broad recommendations from health official to the general public about limiting travel that would trigger a wave of travel cancellations to other parts of the world, at least for the moment.

 Hence, the decision to cancel or postpone travel is largely personal. However, the decision should be made with adequate knowledge.

 If you plan to travel or already have your travel booked, you should find out if your destination is affected by the outbreak. You have a lower risk of contracting coronavirus if your destination has not experienced this outbreak but keep in mind that the virus continues to spread to new areas. Hence, you should be current on the travel advisories to your destination.

Ensure that you adhere to precautionary measure like regular hand washing, cautious handling of surfaces, doorknobs while in transit and at your destination.

Stay away from anyone who is ill, has cough or sneezing. Your health status should also be a consideration. Body response to coronavirus like other viral outbreaks depends a lot on the state of the immune system.

Make sure you eat well, drink an adequate amount of fluid and fruits and have adequate rest so that the body can be in optimal shape before you travel. If you have diseases of the airway, a weak immune system like being on steroids, extremes of age, pregnant state, diabetic or any other immunodeficiency state it is advised you limit travel during the epidemic. You are advised not to travel at all if you are ill.

Your itinerary during travel is also important. If your activity will require you to be in a crowded place and sharing space it might be wise to consider cancellation. It is to this effect that Saudi Arabia has discouraged pilgrims from travelling to the country for lesser Hajj.

 It is recognised that outbreaks are easily spread in overcrowded areas. With several airlines cancelling and reducing travel to some places, travel plans to such places should be postponed regardless of the reason for the travel. Consider adequate travel insurance for your travels ensure it includes “cancel travel for any reason”, medical evacuation, prepaid travel expenses and be prepared to cancel your trip at least 2 days before departure time if need be.

 As you should always do, stay clean and sanitize, avoiding touching your mouth, nose or ears.  Wear masks to reduce your risks of spreading diseases if you have respiratory tract infection. Put things into perspective rather than getting caught up in media sensationalism. Pay with a credit card. If you feel uncomfortable about travelling during the epidemic, postpone your trip for another time.

Travel healthy, Stay healthy and Return healthy.


Adeniyi Bukola,

Consultant Family Physician and Travel Medicine Physician

Q –Life Family Clinic.

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