An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been reported in South Korea, with 95 confirmed cases and 7 deaths thus far. As many as 2,500 people have also been quarantined to contain the situation. This is the first significant spread of the virus outside the Middle East, where it was originally reported in 2012.
For travellers, there is no need to panic yet. So far, Canadian and American government agencies haven’t issued any warnings to avoid travel to South Korea. At present, it seems that human-to-human spread of the virus is not that easy, and is mostly restricted to situations with close contact (such as patient-caregiver contact).
However, it’s still important for travellers to be diligent and informed about situations like the MERS outbreak whenever they’re heading abroad. Here are a few tips that can help any traveller stay safe:
- Be aware of travel advisories and warnings. Before you travel anywhere, check out the Canadian government’s travel advisories for your destination, as well as travel health notices from the Public Health Agency of Canada. This will help you prepare for anything that may be unfolding at your destination. (Important note: Your travel insurance may be restricted if a travel warning is issued for your destination prior to your departure.)
- Practice common sense and good hygiene. While travelling abroad, make sure to avoid contact with individuals who appear to be sick, and never consume untreated animal products or unsafe water.
- Make sure you always have appropriate travel insurance coverage. Should you contract an illness abroad, travel insurance will be there to cover your care and make sure you can focus on getting better, rather than worrying about the bill. With travel insurance, you can travel with confidence—no matter what pops up in the headlines!
Travel Navigator, Intrepid 24/7’s mobile web application, is a tool that helps travellers stay healthy and safe when abroad—and it provides up-to-date notifications on conditions like MERS. Learn more about Travel Navigator here.