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Valentine’s Day isn’t the only thing special in February. Just before the month ends, Filipinos commemorate how the masses once flexed genuine solidarity and bravery, expressed in overwhelming people power at the EDSA Revolution. Its anniversary is a sobering season for reflecting on freedom and the high price that comes with it.
Aside from the privilege of contemplating, what’s exciting about this time is, of course, the holiday — so exciting that a lot of people check if they can make it a long weekend even a month or two before. If you’re one of those people who had foresight on this and already filed their vacation leaves, good for you.
Amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it’s still safe to travel, provided that you pay extra attention to your health. That said, just before you visit the dungeons of Intramuros or board the plane to Singapore, keep in mind these pieces of travel advice:
Take Note of Travel Ban Updates
The government placed travel restrictions on China, Macau, and Hong Kong last January 31. On February 10, it included Taiwan. The ban on the first three destinations was partially lifted to accommodate Filipinos working and studying in those places. However, restrictions for tourists are still in place. Meanwhile, the prohibition on Taiwan was already lifted last February 14.
When staying at the airport or the train station or any crowded place, avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially those who have coughs and a runny nose. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release tiny droplets that contain virus. You may breathe that in when you’re too close to them.
Health experts advise that only those who are ill should wear masks. But if you’re well and a mask will give you peace of mind, there’s no harm in wearing it. Be careful not to touch it though, as it’s likely contaminated after use.
Follow Precautionary Measures
Airports today are the strictest when it comes to monitoring the health status of passengers. Some have added thermal scans to check people’s body temperatures. Others advise the staff to spray liquid disinfectants to passengers. The MRT-3 also sanitized and disinfected trains and keep your peace of mind. You may be requested to fill out health assessment cards, and all these could cause inconvenience to your trip. But for your sake and the others, comply with the precautions. Be patient. You’ll still get to your destination.
Avoid Places That Sell Live Animals
It’s believed that the coronavirus outbreak originated from a local seafood market in Wuhan. Scientists believe that it spread from bats to mammals, such as pigs or civets, then to humans. There’s also evidence that the virus may have been passed directly from bats to people. The story of the virus originating from animals isn’t new. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), a viral respiratory illness, was traced to civet cats. People who handle and trade these species were primarily infected.
For this reason, it’s best to stay away from places that sell live animals. If you’re planning to drop by the local market of the place you’re visiting, make sure to stay away from stray dogs and cats. Watch out for potentially contaminated animal waste on the soil or other surfaces in the wet market.
Cook Food Thoroughly
There’s a good chance that you’re visiting the local market to get fresh produce. That said, if you’re preparing meals yourself, make sure to handle raw meat and animal organs with care. Use separate chopping boards and knives for meat and cooked food. Leave no place for cross-contamination in your kitchen.
Meanwhile, if you’re dining out and exploring local delicacies in your destination, make sure that you’re eating at restaurants that use hygienic food handling practices. Ideally, chefs and servers have clean uniforms and/or protective clothing. Your meals should be fresh and served hot, too.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Wash your hands at the airport. Use the alcohol dispensers at the ticketing booth of the train station. Squeeze a bottle of sanitizer. Grab some disinfecting wipes. Whatever you do, make sure your hands are clean. This is especially important before and after preparing meals, before eating food, and after using the toilet. It’s the simplest thing to do to protect yourself from infection, and yet it’s the one that people often forget. Remember the 20-second rule when washing your hands.
The EDSA Revolution Anniversary holiday and long weekend are almost here. While packing your swimsuits or jackets and planning your itinerary, pay attention to health-related preparations, too. The last thing you need after getting back from the relaxing trip is a runny nose and coughs, right?