How I travelled to another country during the coronavirus outbreak
Less than 24 hours after I landed in Namibia, Windhoek reported two positive cases of coronavirus. Here's how I handled travelling to another country during the covid-19 outbreak:
March 13, 2020
Usually, a trip to a new destination excites me. I am cool, calm and collected. I dress in comfy travel wear, drink healthy smoothies at the airport lounge and cheerfully head to the boarding gate.
But, it was different this time. From the time I stepped inside the airport in my hometown of Durban to occupying a seat on the plane, I felt like a cloud hanging over me. Coronavirus seems to have made its mark and not in a good way.
Men and women and little children wore glove and masks and sprayed hand sanitiser on their hands every few minutes. Many travellers wiped down items like luggage, cellphone and laptops in fear that the virus would spread onto them. As travellers panicked, my anxiety intensified. Everything was rather overwhelming, and the excitement of visiting a new destination started to fizzle out.
Airports are considered one of the most high-risk areas for the virus to spread, especially with an influx of travellers visiting. I took three flights during my journey to Namibia: Durban to Johannesburg, Johannesburg to Windhoek, and Windhoek to Walvis Bay.
The reality of travelling during the coronavirus outbreak hit me when I landed in Johannesburg. Travelling to a different country during what the World Health Organisation calls a pandemic was frightening. I sprayed an awful smelling hand sanitiser with 85 percent alcohol onto my hands as often as possible.
Although hand sanitiser was one of my travel essentials, it felt weird being overly cautious. Every time my hands touched something, I sprayed the sanitiser. I steered away from any human contact and winced every time someone sneezed.
Airlines have made headlines all over the globe with their coronavirus related incidents in recent months. As my trip was planned weeks before the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, it didn't feel right to cancel at the last minute. I chose the window seat. Experts reveal that your chances of getting coronavirus were reduced when you opted for a window seat as you have minimal contact with other passengers.
Channeling Naomi Campbell, I wiped down every nook and cranny of my seat, from the tray table, the armrests to my seatbelt. I did this twice during each flight. Other passengers stared, but I ignored them. Some rolled their eyes when they saw me put on gloves.
While coronavirus scared many travellers, others could not be bothered. Many of them sneezed and coughed without placing their hands over their face.They did not practice basic hygiene. Once the plane landed, I remained fixed to my seat.
Hasty travellers get caught up in making a beeline for the exit doors that they forget that it causes them to be near others. An infected person could spread the virus freely among people.
Wearing gloves was my saving grace. As luggage is passed on through various processes before it gets to the destination, it's uncertain whether it's safe to handle them with bare hands.
Wear gloves when you collect your bag and scrub it clean before opening at your destination. As I was travelling to a new destination, the thought of carrying a possible coronavirus on my suitcase or any items scared me.
Prevention is better than cure
Quite daunting. That's how I would describe my overall experience. It was not easy navigating airports with the "threat" around neither was being stuck in a foreign country with the uncertainty of not being able to head back home. In between the fun sightseeing and activities, I spent most of my free time keeping abreast with the latest news updates.
While covid-19 made me a strong traveller, it also made me aware of how the tourism industry is struggling during this outbreak. Airports were not as packed as it used to be.
There were many empty seats during the majority of my flights, and travel agents have lost revenue due to last-minute cancellations. The excitement of travel may encourage you to want to explore a new destination, especially since there are many discounts available, but it's a chance not worth taking.
Coronavirus has gripped the world with panic, and it's slowly tearing the travel and tourism industry to shreds. Question is, "When will this end?"