With the COVID-19 virus declared a global public health emergency on 30th January 2020, we continue to monitor the issue to ensure we are best-placed to support our volunteers and our in-country partners. We send our thoughts and sympathies to people around the world affected by the illness.
On 29th February 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) gave their updated recommendations for international travellers in light of the rapidly evolving situation.
Most importantly for tourists and travellers, on 27th February 2020, WHO and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) issued a joint statement showing their commitment to working closely together to guide the travel and tourism sector. UNWTO and WHO continue to advise for a measured and consistent approach, warning that “Travel restrictions going beyond these may cause unnecessary … negative repercussions on the tourism sector.” Additionally, “The FCO is not advising against travel to other countries / territories as a result of coronavirus risks.” – UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
We work with projects across Southern Africa where the organisations and in fact the countries themselves, rely on tourism and volunteers.
Updated 19th March:
As of 19th March, the latest situation report from the WHO states:
- 191,927 confirmed cases worldwide
- 7,807 deaths
- 223 confirmed cases in Africa, primarily in South Africa (62), Algeria (60), Senegal (27) and Burkino Faso (20).
*** Conservation Travel Africa updated cancellation policy: 17th March 2020***
We understand that these are uncertain times, and we have relaxed our cancellation terms to allow travellers to monitor the situation in their home country and also their destination country, rather than having to make a final call two months in advance.
From 17th March 2020, our revised cancellation policy for current participants and new bookings can be found here. We also advise volunteers to read our standard terms and conditions, for advice on travel insurance, visas and health and safety. As standard practice across our projects, all volunteers should have comprehensive travel insurance. We urge volunteers to purchase the best policy they can afford, to ensure they are covered for any eventuality.
Tips for staying healthy while travelling
One of WHO’s strategic objectives is to minimise the transmission of infections through personal hygiene measures.
General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one metre from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travellers. These recommendations include:
- Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after coughing or sneezing, or being in a public place. The preferred method of hygiene is to wash hands frequently with soap and hot water. If this is not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled;
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene;
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose;
- Stay at home if you feel sick, both to avoid spreading any infections, and to minimise the risk to yourself with a compromised immune system
- Carry disinfectant wipes to wipe down plane tray tables, seat belts, armrests and door handles
- Open your air vent on flights to clear air
- If you decide to wear a mask are to be worn, it is important to follow best practices on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal (see Advice on the use of masks)
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