Is It Safe To Travel Home To Quarantine With Family During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

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This post is updated regularly to reflect the latest news and science around the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in the UK.

With the growing number of COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 6,000 reported across the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an announcement on March 23 outlining new restrictions on social interactions and travel, placing the country into a temporary lockdown. These measures will take some getting used to, and our natural instinct is to seek comfort in friends and family. However, this raises the question of whether it is safe to travel home to quarantine with family during the coronavirus outbreak.

Should you avoid travelling home to stay with family during the coronavirus outbreak?

Thousands of travellers have been "scrambling" to return home all over the world, according to the Guardian. Yet the UK government has now instructed British citizens to stay where they are to help stop the spread of the outbreak.

As London is considered the vanguard for the virus in the UK, with high levels of confirmed cases in the capital, some have suggested that London-based commuters should be especially wary of travelling out of the area. Although no block has been placed on roads or railways lines in and out of London, the government is urging people not to leave the city unless it is essential to do so.

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What are the risks to elderly parents and vulnerable family members?

Throughout country people are being instructed to stay at home as much as possible, whether they are with or without symptoms. This is for the benefit of UK's most vulnerable people, who are being asked to self-isolate for the next 12 weeks. This includes the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions.

The Guardian reports that the virus seems to be worst affecting those over 60, and even more so those over 80. Those who are below 50 and do not have underlying health conditions usually experience far milder symptoms and have a low mortality rate, as the BBC reports, but there is no guarantees about how the virus will affect each individual.

How else can I keep in contact with my family?

With all risks taken into account, you might be looking to FaceTime or call instead of visiting in person, as well as keeping up the conversation on WhatsApp group chats.

If you're worried about a family member's access to food or supplies, there are a great number of COVID-19 mutual aid groups across the country pledging to help the most vulnerable people in their towns and local areas. Organisers of these groups — run entirely by volunteers and non-medical professionals — are delivering food for those self-isolating.

You can find the growing list of Mutual Aid Groups on the Covid-19 Mutual Aid website.

How can you reduce the risk of passing the virus on to others?

As coronavirus is likely spread through cough or sneeze droplets, there are ways to avoid catching or spreading it.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible. Scrub them for at least 20 seconds; there are lots of celebrity videos out there to jazz up your hand washing routine.
  • Carry hand sanitiser for times where you can't access a bathroom. Ensure your sanitiser contains at least 60% alcohol, and, again, rub in for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your face when your hands aren't clean.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into a tissue or your elbow. Throw tissues away immediately after use and then wash your hands.
  • Avoid the vulnerable and anyone showing symptoms, and self-isolate if you do come into contact.

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If you or someone you’ve been in close contact with appears to have shown or be showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, visit the NHS website in the UK to find out the next steps you should take or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.

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