The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), infected over 40 million people worldwide and claimed over a million lives. By March 11, 2020, almost all nations were affected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic. In the United States alone, the virus has infected over eight million people and killed over 220,000 people.
Photo credit: Maria Sbytova / Shutterstock
Non-pharmacological preventive measures
SARS CoV-2 is highly contagious and spreads quickly from person to person. There are currently no specific antiviral drugs that are effective at fighting the virus, and no vaccines to prevent infection.
Non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs) are all that are available to slow the spread of the virus. NPIs advised by leading health organizations such as WHO and the CDC include:
- Physical distance of 6 feet or more and avoidance of gathering and staying indoors
- Use appropriate masks or face coverings to cover your mouth and nose.
- Do not touch the face, eyes, nose, etc.
- Hand hygiene, which involves washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Updates on October 19th from CDC
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued numerous health warnings regarding the pandemic. On October 19, the CDC updated its guidelines for COVID-19. These updates are focused on preventing the infection from spreading while traveling. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, international and domestic travel have been restricted in many countries. With the slow reversal of restrictions and prohibitions, travel is resumed with caution. These new guidelines therefore focus on ways to make travel safer during the pandemic. The notice mainly relates to the effective use of masks while traveling.
The CDC website states: “Transmission of the virus through travel has resulted in and continues to spread the virus across states and countries.” “Local transmission can quickly become interstate and international transmission when infected people travel on public transport without a mask and with other people who do not wear a mask.”
The notice states that there are seven places where appropriate masks must be worn.
- In airplanes – The CDC recommends that all air travelers wear an appropriate face mask at all times. This is also a mandatory requirement of almost all airlines. CDC says everyone should wear masks on their way through the airport.
- In trains – Traveling by train increases the risk of infection with the coronavirus, as there is inevitable proximity to other passengers over a longer period of time.
- Subways – The lack of ventilation of the subways increases the risk of infection from one person to another, especially in subway stations. Crowding also makes it easier for the infection to spread. The CDC urges passengers to choose coaches that are less crowded and to avoid high-contact contact. Hand sanitizer and adequate hand hygiene are another essential aspect of travel, according to the CDC.
- buses – Although buses have fresher air circulation, which reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission compared to subways, it is still possible to get infected while traveling on buses. Short trips or long bus rides on buses should both be undertaken with masks on, the CDC says.
- Taxis and taxis – Taxis and taxis must touch high contact surfaces and bring the driver into close proximity to the driver. The closed interior of the car also increases the risk of coronavirus transmission. Therefore, these cabs need to be masked, says the CDC.
- Carpooling – Sharing a local public transit cabin or ride-sharing center like Uber and Lyft with another passenger requires the use of a face mask to prevent the infection from spreading, according to the CDC.
- Ships and ferries – Decks are open and well ventilated. However, the risk of crowding and traveling with an infected person remains and therefore all drivers must mask themselves, according to the CDC.
The CDC says on its website, “Widespread and routine use of masks in our transportation systems will protect Americans and instill confidence that we can travel safer again during this pandemic.”
The CDC said transport companies must ensure that all travelers and employees wear masks “for the duration of the trip.” You must provide masks for passengers who do not wear them. Operators could exclude children under the age of two or anyone who has received written instructions from a healthcare provider.
The US Travel Association responded to the CDC mandate: “There simply cannot be economic and job recovery unless travel generally resumes, and universal acceptance of masking and other sanitary practices is what is going on . ” for that to happen. “