A Way To Go, hosted by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba, usually interviews interesting travelers about where they go, why they go, and how we can join them, getting fascinating points of view from hotel designers, refugees, and even fugitives. But what’s a travel podcast to do with the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the globe and restricting non-essential trips? Turns out, the best thing is to sit down with an expert, and on this episode, they talk with Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Jennifer Haythe to hear about how the coronavirus itself travels, and what we should do to protect ourselves if we have to jump on a plane in the next couple of months.
As of this writing, over 5,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the virus, and nearly 100 have died. It’s clear this is something to take seriously. However, Jeralyn and Pavia think a lot of misinformation and uncertainty is leading to unnecessary panic and anxiety. Dr. Haythe agrees, saying it’s partly due to the way “this has unfolded in the media,” and partly due to the fact that “we still don’t have enough information to make good decisions.” She echoes the advice from reputable sources like the CDC and the World Health Organization to take precautions: staying home, sanitizing everything frequently, and washing your hands “probably more than you want to.”
She says coronavirus, much like other viruses and influenzas, is spread by close contact, which is why it’s important to practice social distancing. They ask her about the chances of being reinfected, pointing to a couple of stories out of China and Japan about people being released from the hospital after treatment, only to test positive for the virus again. Dr. Haythe says that can happen with any disease, but it doesn’t seem to be a pattern yet, so it’s not a cause for concern. As more people are tested and more information is analyzed, we’ll understand a lot more, she tells us.
Pavia says that’s part of her anxiety – “it feels incredibly unknowable,” she admits, and Dr. Haythe says we should look to South Korea to model our response on, pointing out that they did a massive amount of constant testing and kept their death rate to below 1%. China is now seeing the number of cases go down, as well. So there’s light at the end of this tunnel, as long as we make sure we’re following guidelines put forward from WHO and the CDC and not spreading misinformation around to further confuse and upset people. “Don’t just search random things on the Internet,” she says firmly.
Listen to this episode of A Way To Go for more information on why the disease doesn’t seem to affect children, how it’s different from H1N1 and the swine flu, what precautions you can take if you have to travel during this time, and what Dr. Haythe packs in her travel first-aid kit. Please visit CDC.gov or WHO.int for up-to-date information, and don’t forget to wash your hands!
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