It’s been all over the news, and you’re wondering – do I need to worry about Coronavirus COVID-19 during my trip to Peru? As scary and unnerving as a new, contagious disease can be, there are a lot of reasons you don’t need to panic with this new coronavirus.
What is a coronavirus, anyway? A coronavirus is a general term for a family of viruses that are round and have spokes, making them look like a crown (hence the name – ‘corona’virus) which typically affect the respiratory system of mammals and birds, including humans. This can include anything from the common cold, pneumonia, and other known diseases, such as SARS and MERS. These types of viruses are responsible for 15 – 30 percent of common colds, and have been found in mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, bats, people, etc.
So, what makes this one special? This one is noteworthy because it is still relatively new, and so there are still a lot of unknowns.
How many cases are there in South America? As of 12pm on March 10, 2020, there were 100 total cases in South America:
- Brazil – 31
- Argentina – 17
- Chile – 17
- Ecuador – 15
- Peru – 11
- French Guiana – 5
- Colombia – 3
- Paraguay – 1
What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
How do I protect myself? You’ll want to follow the same protocol that you really should during any flu season or during any travels:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home (or possibly your hotel room) if you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Do I need to worry about this? A little bit, yes, though you don’t need to panic. The illness is generally quite mild, especially for younger adults and children. There can be complications, however, with approximately 1 in 5 people who catch it needing hospital care. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. So you don’t need to worry too much, however you will want to keep an eye on any symptoms you may have, and seek medical attention if they become severe.
We are staying on top of the situation, and so if you have any questions, you can ask your travel designer! Also, if you would like to learn more about what we know about the COVID-19 so far, you can check out this video – or check out the World Health Organization’s website, which has the latest on all things COVID-19 – you can check out their main COVID-19 site, or just go directly to the FAQs.