There is just no way you would not know about the coronavirus, aka COVID-19 spreading across the world right now. What you might not know is what it’s like traveling both infected and uninfected European countries at these crucial times. My personal experience was quite recent when I was traveling from Prague Czech republic to Hurghada in Egypt.
This is my story.
This February I went on an unexpected last-minute vacation to Egypt. All about the trip is in my previous article: Egypt in February
With everything ready to go, exactly one day before our flight, coronavirus was confirmed in Egypt- our final destination. This fact meant that the COVID-19 reached yet another continent and deepened its pandemic potential.
It was the time my family worriedly messaged me hoping I would reconsider my travel. Spoiler alert: I did not.
What it’s like at the airport with COVID-19?
Once we arrived at Prague’s airport the first thing we noticed was that no one was wearing a face mask. The second thing was the lack of people as it was like 11 am and the only flights were to Hurghada.
All around the Prague airport were these, let’s call them COVID-19 stands. It was basically a board where you could read the general info about the coronavirus, what to do for prevention and what to do if you have a suspicion you might have it. It was written in different languages for all tourists to understand.
Along with the boards were free disinfection pumps and I truly believe they should be a regular part of airports, not only during epidemy.
It looked just like this:
Just a reminder, the Czech Republic didn’t have, and to this day don’t have a single confirmed coronavirus case. These were all just precautions.
Things were much different once we arrived in Egypt. As they already have a confirmed case and are a popular tourist destination, I was expecting we would have to go through some sort of checkup or screening on arrival. Nothing happened though. No disinfection. No information board. And again- no one was wearing a face mask.
It was like arriving in a care-free country where no one even knew something like coronavirus existed.
The same thing on our way back at Hurghada airport. One week later and nothing changed. Just a bunch of tourists from all around the world in one big building waiting to be distributed to the world.
What changed in Prague was that we noticed like a quarter of all people there were wearing a face mask.
Let me tell you more about face masks and how priceless goods it became.
I’m a pharmacist. I deal with the COVID-19 panic every single day and I have never witnessed a mass hysteria like this one. The truth is I already lived through several massive epidemics but none of them come even close to COVID-19.
The quest to make money out of people’s unnecessary fear is disgusting.
Take this one. The general face mask works only on the already sick patients so they don’t spread their disease on healthy individuals.
Regular price 15Kc or like 0,60 euro.
The price during coronavirus scare all around the country?
200kc or 8,90euros.
That’s 13 times its original price. And yet people who never traveled outside their safe un-infected country, who are too xenophobic to ever talk to a foreigner, with no immunodeficiency ask for 10 packs.
People are stockpiling.
Again: there was no confirmed case of coronavirus. Yet, people are buying rice, pasta, flour, and can food like it’s the end of the world. People are buying in bulk. Most of the supermarkets have a bunch of empty shelves.
Disinfection gels are sold out. Face masks are sold out.
It’s all around the media but I still have like 100 people a day asking for some. I even had patients asking for some medications for coronavirus. Like it’s that easy.
I swear to God most of the people are gonna die of a heart attack because of how afraid of coronavirus they are rather than actual coronavirus.
If only we would treat all diseases the same way we treat COVID-19.
Just imagine if the media put the same pressure on wearing condoms as it’s an actual form of prevention from AIDS. Imagine a world where people are so considered to one another they don’t go around coughing at everyone and everything. I dream of a world where patients don’t demonstrate the cough directly at their pharmacist when asked about the type of cough they have. Just imagine a world where people wash their hands because it’s the right thing to do and not out of fear.
I don’t want to lighten the whole COVID-19 situation. It’s absolutely devastating.
All I’m asking for is to reconsider the panic level to the facts.
In conclusion: I was expecting more at the airports I’ve been to but at least it was something. Hopefully, they improved over time.
Slovak airports plan to measure the temperature of every passenger. It’s a nice gesture but as the incubation period is up to 14 days it might not work as they planned to. But again it’s something.
Most of the flights from major airline companies got canceled. Just in case.
Passengers arriving from Italy or China get extra attention all around European airports. There are separate gates, a thorough screening process, or extra questionnaires for people coming from infected areas.
Czech phone companies even send out text messages stating that everyone who traveled to the infected country should watch out for fever, cough, or breathing problems for the next 2 weeks. In case of suspicion, they should contact their doctors through the phone.
So remember this during this COVID-19 times:
Stop spreading panic.
Wash your hands.
Don’t cough all around you.
Don’t be a racist dick.