I’ve had a family holiday booked to Thailand for months now and for the last few days, I have been debating backwards and forwards, asking the question: Should I cancel my holiday because of Coronavirus?
There is no easy answer and my husband and I have been going back and forth on the issue. We’d lose a significant amount of money if we postponed or cancelled our holiday but is our ‘relaxing’ break worth the stress of worrying about possible quarantines or even worse, getting sick while travelling.
Yes, even before Coronavirus hit, there is always a threat of getting sick overseas. My daughter caught severe flu while we were in Fiji and we all caught it – what a miserable holiday that was. It’s more just the threat of the unknown and whether we’ll be stuck in a foreign place if the spread of the virus gets worse. And of course, it’s not just myself – I have to think about our young children too. Am I being an irresponsible mother by putting them at risk (even if it’s tiny) for the promise of cocktails by the beach and kids club?
And of course, traipsing through airports and other crowded areas is not something I’m looking forward to. Or being cooped up in an aeroplane with anyone who has the sneezes (even if it’s just the common cold).
It Could Happen In Our Backyard
I know I could go to the local nail salon and come back with Coronavirus (as happened in the Gold Coast recently) so am I being ridiculous about worrying about travelling? Maybe over-cautious but I think ultimately if you’re going to catch Coronavirus, I’d much rather get it at home than away from the comforts and security of our local hospitals and doctors.
When Do You Postpone To?
But if you do postpone, when do you postpone until? Will the whole virus mayhem blow over in a few weeks, a few months, a couple of years. It’s really almost impossible to predict at the moment.
I guess, the best option is perhaps to stay local. Holidaying domestically, especially with all the natural disasters our country has endured over the last few months, would probably be a more responsible option. We’d be ‘giving back’ to those locals who are struggling to rebuild their lives after the bushfires, but limiting our risk of being stuck if Coronavirus builds into a pandemic.
But we all know that travelling locally is not cheap and our holiday to Thailand is amazing value-for-money. It’ll be such a pity to cancel such a great deal….and is the threat really that big? You see…..I’m driving myself crazy with the indecision.
Putting emotion aside, let’s look at the official travel landscape we’re facing in Australia, which could help answer the quested: “Should I Cancel My Holiday Because or Coronavirus”.
Is it Safe To Travel Overseas?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued travel warnings for a number of countries that have been impacted more severely by the virus. These include China, South Korea, Japan and more recently Italy (mostly Northern Italy).
Every day there are fresh cases reported of the virus, with 28 cases currently in Australia and thousands more scattered throughout 60 countries across the world.
“The question of whether it’s appropriate to cancel or change travel plans in light of the spread of the coronavirus is largely a personal decision that travelers must make after weighing all the facts at hand,” says Paul Metselaar, the CEO of Ovation Travel Group to Forbes. “That is because – for the vast majority of the world – there are no official limitations on travel.”
Amesh Adalja, a pandemic preparedness expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore in the US has weighed into the debate speaking to AARP saying:
“This is all going to be fluid and changing as the virus spreads around the globe.”
“I think it’s up to the individual and what their risk preference is. There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all prescription for travelers.”
It’s best to stay up to date with the travel warnings on Smart Traveller, which will provide you with up to date travel restrictions.
When Should You Reconsider Travelling
Experts do say that those who fit in the following categories may wish to reconsider travelling or at least chat to your doctor for guidance:
1) If you’re travelling with babies or very young children
2) If you’re pregnant
3) chronic health problem or weak immunity
Can I still travel through transport hubs in Asia?
Travellers can still travel through airports in Asia but you should expect to be screened for Coronavirus symptoms and you need to be prepared for possible quarantine.
The ABC has put together a helpful list on what to expect at the more popular airports in Asia:
At Hong Kong airport, all passengers leaving the airport will undergo temperature checks – even if they’re just transferring between flights. So you need to expect being delayed for flights.
If you’ve travelled through mainland China you will be quarantined for two weeks. If you’re arriving from Korea, you won’t be allowed to enter Hong Kong.
Travellers through all Malaysian airports are now instructed to wear a mask at all times, and anyone who has a cough or fever will be taken to hospital on arrival.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport has set up quarantine bays at its arrival gates for any passengers who appear to be unwell.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Health is distributing Health Alert Cards for passengers to fill in, declaring any medical problems when they arrive.
All passengers arriving at Changi or Seletar airports will need to undergo a temperature check on arrival.
If you’ve arrived from China, “healthcare teams” will be watching out for passengers who look unwell.
If you’re booking a holiday now, there is no doubt that you should take out travel insurance. However, you need to read the fine print and exclusions in the product disclosure statement very carefully.
Many insurers have exemptions for infectious diseases and pandemics, but so you just need to check whether your policy would cover cancellations or medical expenses for coronavirus-related claims.
It is definitely worthwhile reaching out to your travel agent, airline and accommodation to see if changes or cancellations can be made before making an insurance claim.
Amesh Adalja has said: if the epidemic starts to spread across the United States and other parts of the world that are now relatively unaffected, worries about international travel may become a nonissue. He points to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, when, “within six months, it infected over a billion people and was spread worldwide. Eventually the idea of worrying about travel dissipated, because it was in communities all over the world. And I think that may be the case as the months of this outbreak wind on.”
Wait And See
It looks like most people are taking a “let’s see what happens” approach. Although if you have a travel plans booked to leave within the next month or two, it’s probably better to make a decision sooner rather than later.
So should I cancel my holiday because of Coronavirus? I’m still not 100% decided but it looks like postponing is probably the way we’ll go.
Are you still going overseas on holiday or are you thinking of postponing or cancelling? Are you booking any new holidays? Tell us in the comments below.