Update

"When I wrote this article I was convinced that I could still travel without it causing any harm to the people around me. It is quite painful to have to cancel something I have been planning and saving for, for the past few months but after careful consideration and the announcement of a national disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night, my friend and I have decided to put the trip on hold and practice social distancing until this nightmare is over."

Original article

What happens when your deep sense of wanderlust is dampened by a deep sense of paranoia, or dare I say, hypochondria?

I’d spent months planning and saving amid a lot of excitement while preparing for my next trip. Imagine eagerly looking for a great place to stay and keeping an eye out for flight deals, booking visa appointments then suddenly having to reconsider it all? That’s the predicament I currently find myself in.

Since last year, a friend and I have been looking into planning the perfect getaway to the culturally rich and beautiful Marrakesh, Morocco. We’d done our research, booked the perfect little Airbnb, as well as flights and even had our visas approved.

Read more: Positive coronavirus cases in SA now at 24, more to be verified

Nearly R13 000 later, here we are. The threat of the global spread of Covid-19 or coronavirus, as it’s known, being the big issue looming over everyone’s heads. To be honest, the threat of losing all that money is another scare I could do without.

Am I being overly paranoid or is it still safe for me to travel?  Just this morning, the ping of my WhatsApp went off, with a message from my travel buddy indicating a concern I think we both kept to ourselves for a while: “Friend, I’m worried about our travel, hey,” the message read.

Are we both overthinking it all? I later logged on to Facebook and read a headline to a story shared by one of my Facebook friends: “Please stop the Coronavirus hysteria. Now”. Are we all just being hysterical and naïve going about our lives as if Covid-19 isn’t as serious as it is?

Read more: Coronavirus in SA: No travel bans yet, as government looks at economic impact

I’m generally a healthy human being and somewhat of a germaphobe, so best believe hand sanitiser and wet wipes are staples in my handbag, but would that be enough? Maybe taking immune boosters and even a flu shot will help safeguard me, or am I just trying to convince myself?

This week Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, with the virus said to be more critical for those with underlying illnesses. I’m asthmatic but very disciplined in using my pumps and haven’t suffered any attacks in years, but with the global outcry and growing number of infections daily, am I a target?

Am I at as great a risk of being infected back home in SA as I would be in Morocco? South Africa has reported more confirmed cases than that of my holiday destination, after all.

Read more: Explained: How the coronavirus is transmitted - and how to keep yourself safe

Should I breathe easy (excuse the pun) and just not overthink it, or are my fears warranted?

My take? I’m still as ready as ever to hop in a plane and take to the skies as planned – unless government intervention dictates otherwise. I think being vigilant, cautious and mindful are key things to consider.

I’m very aware of quarantine process and our company policy has even implemented working from home for two weeks after any international travel, just as a precautionary measure – all that I completely agree with and am willing to adhere to.

But at this stage, I’m packing my bags, washing my hands and saying a little prayer.

Safety measures

“Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. This novel coronavirus has the potential to cause severe disease and death,” according to the department of health.

However, travelling does put you at risk and there are a few things one needs to know about travelling during this pandemic.

The department also advises that those who are older adults and people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of contracting the virus. The situation is currently evolving, and more people are being infected through contact with those who have the virus.

The department of health has noted down these safety measures to take while travelling:

·         Avoid travelling if you have a fever or a cough

·         Avoid close contact with others. If you are in contact with them, wash your hands frequently by using alcohol-based hand sanitiser, soap and water.

·         If you choose to wear a face mask, make sure it covers your mouth and nose, and avoid touching the mask

·         When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a flexed elbow or a tissue

·         If you become sick while travelling, inform somebody and seek medical help immediately

·         Only eat well-cooked food

·         Avoid animals of any kind.

*real name not used to protect the identity of the writer.