More Countries Report First Case of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Belarus, Botswana and Sierra Leone are the latest countries to report the first case of COVID-19 in their territories. Invariably, more cases will be detected in the coming days and weeks.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of COVID -19.

Advice For Travellers

In many countries, the total number of reported cases is still small compared to the total population of the country. In nearly all countries that have reported cases, the cumulative number of infected people increases daily. The reported number can increase rapidly from day to day as an outbreak begins.

It is difficult to estimate the risk of exposure to the new coronavirus in the affected countries since an unknown number of infected people may have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. They may not seek medical attention where they would be registered for counting in national statistics. Nevertheless, the risk may be increasing at this time in many countries.

In the interim, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other countries have issued the following general advice for travellers to reduce the risk of infection by this virus if travelling in or from affected areas:

  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment; use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
  • Older travellers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to affected areas with their healthcare provider.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms develop after visiting affected areas where transmission is occurring.

These recommendations may change on short notice.