Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Despite efforts to contain the disease in China, the number of confirmed cases of the new Conronavirus in mainland China is now over 4000 and still increasing. Whilst the number of confirmed international cases are still low, it appears that personnel can be infectious before showing any symptoms. The gestation period for the disease is approximately 5 days and it is therefore likely that these numbers will increase further over the coming days. Updates are available from Public Health England (PHE).
Prudent Overlanders / Travellers and Businesses should consider the following actions which are based on continued escalation.
Travellers / Overlanders
Cease all non essential travel to China and infected countries
Do not travel while sick
Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available before eating and after using the toilet, after returning home, touching garbage and / or contact with animals or animal waste;
Avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;
Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands);
If you return from a country infected with the disease feeling sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should stay away from others, call your Doctor and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
Strengthen your immune system – exercise regularly
Make sure shared spaces are well ventilated. Avoid enclosed crowded spaces stations, public transport etc.
Avoid contact with those that have flu like symptoms
Wear face masks where available and there is risk of infection.
1. Cease all travel to China and especially quarantined cities. Personnel currently within quarantined areas should register with their embassies and establish regular safety check calls with their companies. Organisations with personnel 'trapped' within quarantined areas should:
Liaise with national governments (for UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London) to determine if evacuation is possible and actions required.
Liaise with corporate travel insurance and health companies. Understand constraints and limitations of medical evacuation and special risks policies in the context of an Epidemic / Pandemic.
Consider VISA expiry dates and negotiate / arrange extensions as required.
Liaise and network with other international companies with staff in infected areas. Be prepared to offer mutual support as able.
Closely monitor the situation (the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus dashboard provides an up to date picture and see 'Useful Links' below). Ensure that accurate information is available to all and common, consistent messaging is available and given to all.
Establish an information service for Next of Kin / families and friends at home.
Establish a counselling service hotline for those quarantined and their families.
Consider the need for temporary financial (or other) assistance for families.
Review Next of Kin and Emergency Contacts for all staff and contractors. Nominate 'Family Liaison Officers'.
Review local contingency plans. Minimise local movements until the situation has been stablilised. Make plans based on an extended period of quarantine and consider 'worst case' scenarios.
Consider security risk and the possibility of deterioration including loss of food supply, utilities and communications.
Review business continuity plans.
Consider practical assistance such as the provision of drugs and medical care / telephone support for those in quarantine.
2. Suspend all non essential travel to infected countries.
Consider the risk of travellers becoming 'trapped' by countries imposing sudden quarantines on areas found to be disease hot spots.
Ensure travellers have access to help lines and medical advice.