Traveling for business during busy travel times (which often coincide with flu season) requires extra precautions to stay as healthy as possible. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and washing and disinfecting spaces are all strategies we know to follow. But with the recent spread of the coronavirus, you may be wondering if there are other precautions to take.
At the moment, the risk of catching coronavirus in the United States is low. However, the flu is something to be aware of, as it can be fatal. While there is never a guarantee that you won't get ill, here are a few things you can do to be prepared, as well as tools to help you monitor the situation.
Know if you're going to an affected area.
Check the CDC's website for travelers if you are unsure about the threat of any illness in the area you are traveling to. The site will give you further information on what to prepare for and whether you'll need additional vaccines. It can also tell you what clinics are available at your destination.
If you are specifically looking for places affected by the Wuhan coronavirus, check out this tool by John Hopkins University. It will tell you where the coronavirus has spread globally, with red circles indicating the areas with reported cases.
Monitor the outbreak, especially if you will be traveling in the next few weeks. Because there are concerns about the virus spreading quickly, more travel limitations are being put in place, with some airlines even canceling routes.
When traveling and in public spaces, particularly public transportation, wear gloves or mittens. Be sure to wash your gloves often. Avoid touching your face until you've washed your hands thoroughly with soap and water (not just hand sanitizer--though it'll do if nothing else is available).
Consider wearing a face mask if you have a cough or are sneezing, to help contain germs from spreading. However, face masks harbor a lot of bacteria, so avoid touching your mask when it's on, discard it after use, and wash your hands once it's off.
Keep your distance.
If you are ill, stay home or at your hotel if possible. If you are around people and have to be at the office, stay away from them. Cover your mouth and wash your hands after coughing or sneezing. Whether you're sick or not, avoid big, dense crowds as much as possible.
Use clean towels.
If you are staying in a hotel, request clean towels daily. Otherwise, wash towels frequently and designate a towel for your personal use. Avoid damp towels, as they are breeding grounds for germs.
Be careful when dining.
Avoid eating undercooked food, especially meat. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. This should go without saying, but do not share utensils. Use serving utensils when serving meals to avoid cross-contamination.
Disinfect before you touch.
You may get an odd look or two, but when you board a plane, it's worth disinfecting your seat with antibacterial wipes. Clean armrests, screens, and tray tables (they've been found to be the dirtiest part of a plane). When you get to your hotel, clean the door handles, phones, and TV remotes.
Follow doctor-recommended guidelines for staying healthy--things like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating fruits and vegetables. You can also take vitamins. Also, be sure to get any recommended vaccines before traveling.
Buy travel insurance.
If you have a trip planned and are worried about the virus or other outbreaks, consider buying travel insurance or at least using a travel credit card that comes with travel protections. Check policies to be sure you are covered in the event of trip cancelation or medical emergency. It's better to have that insurance, just in case.
Obviously, if you can avoid travel to areas affected, do so. And if at any time you are feeling very ill and have a fever, are coughing, and are having trouble breathing, seek medical attention immediately.