MIAMI – In Japan, the coronavirus prompted a shortage of toilet paper. The iconic cherry blossom festivals were canceled. The 2020 Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to begin late July, could be delayed if the situation worsens.
Standard travel insurance doesn’t cover travelers who decide to cancel their plans because of the coronavirus, so even those who bought it are faced with tough decisions amid the changes in Japan.
As of Tuesday, Japanese authorities had reported 12 COVID-19 patients have died.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to travelers asking them to “practice enhanced precautions” and the U.S. Department of State issued an advisory asking travelers to “exercise increased caution.”
Epidemiologists believe Japan is experiencing a sustained community transmission of the respiratory illness, which can spread from person to person. The CDC is asking older adults and people with chronic medical conditions to consider postponing nonessential travel.
If you decide to travel to Japan, experts at the CDC want you to take the following steps:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Pay attention to your health during travel and for 14 days after you leave.
- Take your temperature.
- Seek medical advice. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel an area with community spread of coronavirus, and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.