The situation is now fast moving; governments and authorities are now generally alert to the threat. Due to the speed and scale of transmission and deep concern that some countries are not approaching this threat with the level of political commitment needed to control it, the WHO have now declared a 'Pandemic'. The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous. This does not mean therefore that everybody should 'give up' but rather double efforts to contain and slow the spread of infection.
The WHO are asking countries to respond in four stages; a summary can be found here. The four stages are:
1. Be prepared and ready
2. Detect, prevent, treat
3. Reduce and suppress
4. Innovate and improve
National Management Strategies
Countries are adopting many different approaches and in some cases this is driven by politics or cultural expectation rather than science. The sudden implementation of new strategies may cause travellers to become 'trapped' in foreign countries for extended periods (14 days or longer).
Any decision to travel should take into account the quality of local medical resources, the risk of them becoming overloaded and inability to return home should anything happen to family members until quarantines or travel bans are lifted. Advice previously provided remains valid. Travellers should consider returning home or making arrangements to be self sufficient for an extended period. For businesses it would be prudent to suspend all international travel until further notice and to encourage staff to adopt distancing strategies both in their business and personal lives to delay transmission of the disease. Non essential staff and any others that can, should be encouraged to work from home to avoid risk of infection presented by commuting in overcrowded public transport system.
In the mean time, if if you have coronavirus symptoms, the UK Government advises you should stay at home for 7 days (or self isolate if travelling). Symptoms include a high temperature or a new continuous cough. Do NOT go to a Doctors Surgery, Clinic or hospital. If symptoms do not get better after 7 days then it may be necessary to get tested and possibly be admitted to hospital.
Wash your hands at regular intervals for 20 seconds (or 2 x 'Happy Birthday').
Be careful when coughing or sneezing to catch droplets and dispose of tissues immediately in an appropriate manner.
Try to avoid touching your face.
Avoid unnecessary contact with others, for example shaking hands.
Seek medical advice over the telephone as maybe available in the country you are in and / or via your travel insurer.
If overseas, consider returning to your home country.
Be ready to 'go home, stay home' in case authorities decide to take draconian steps and shut down cities.
Taking into account the different strategies and advice being issued by governments, to avoid the risk of communicating mixed messages across businesses and confusing Travellers in different countries, it is intended that this be the last update on Covid-19 from Tip Toe. Public information services in countries should be closely monitored and local advice and procedures followed. Travellers remaining overseas should register with their Embassies if they have not already done so. Those that want want specific advice may contact Tip Toe via the website.
Do not despair. Remember the morbidity rate of Covid-19 remains low. It is likely that it will eventually 'visit' you or a member of your family; expect it but do not be alarmed by it. Be prepared but avoid panic buying as this will cause other problems and possibly deny care to those that may desperately need it.
And finally ................ Covid-19 presents an opportunity for the world to learn from the spread of this sort of disease and to determine which strategies work best to safeguard the population in case something much more sinister should follow in the future. Work together, support each other and your neighbours. Be sensible, act responsibly and stay safe.
CDC Whitehouse Task Force information