Bianca Calin, freshman Communication major, Romania, waiting for going back home in the midst of the global outbreak of CoronaVirus. Photo taken by Mykola Muzhytskyi
Being “in the heart of Europe”, LCC International University found itself caught in a global epidemic - just in an eye of the storm.
LCC is a home institution for both students and staff and faculty from all over the world. With an upcoming Spring break 2020, students are going home and travel around Europe. While they are bringing pleasant memories and a sense of reunitement with their family, they also might bring a virus to LCC campus.
With the recent spread of COVID-19 (or Coronavirus, as many might know it), this unexpected Spring break souvenir brought from a foreign country might pose a lethal threat to a tight LCC community.
With the estimated death rate of 1% worldwide, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation places the CoronaVirus between 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (2%) and 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%). However, the rates vary greatly according to the location and the age: in the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei Province, China, the death rate averages to 2.3%, while other mainland China regions report 0.4% of lethal cases, according to the China CDC Weekly study. The report states that “the death rate soars to 14.8% in those 80 and older; among those ages 70 to 79, the COVID-19 death rate in China seems to be about 8%; it’s 3.6% for those ages 60 to 69; 1.3% for 50 to 59; 0.4% for the age group 40 to 49; and just 0.2% for people ages 10 to 39.”
The main source of information about Coronavirus for LCC students recently published news about the first case of Coronavirus in Lithuania brought by a woman traveling from Northern Italy. This case brought the threat significantly closer to home and posed a question: will that be a common cause for LCC students and their traveling ambitions?
The question arises: is the trip worth it?
To go or not to go: that is the question
Booking a trip home to Romania, Bianca Calin, a Communication freshman student, had no idea what complications this trip will bring. One of the biggest destinations for regular labor migration from Romania, Italy is now the biggest holder of Coronavirus in Europe. In two weeks, the virus was forecasted to reach Romania through returning migrants — just in time for Bianca’s arrival. However, the virus already made its way to Romania, resulting in three cases of illness.
“If Romania,Estonia and Austria, countries where I have layovers, are not going to be listed in potentially dangerous countries, I will check the official list before boarding my plane and definitely go”, said Bianca,half-jokingly, half-serious.
On a similar note, Valeriia Petrechkiv, sophomore IRD student, bought tickets to Italy, Milan, months before Coronavirus was on the news. Today, she and dozens of other students who bought tickets to Italy have to face a choice: save money, travel, and be in a life-threatening situation or cancel the trip completely.
According to information provided by LCC, students that are traveling to the affected areas will not be able to return to campus and attend classes 14 days after their return and will have to be quarantined.
“At first, I wasn’t as concerned about the virus but about the possibility of being excluded from university life for two weeks by being quarantined”, said Valeriia.”Now, however, I see this situation as very alarming, especially after finding out about the first case of Coronavirus in Lithuania.”
Traveling and Staying Safe: Hidden Common Knowledge
Although being aware of the situation is always helpful, more concrete steps are needed to cope with the problem on a local level.
Dr. Michael Patrick is an LCC professor of communication and journalism, with extensive experience as a network journalist and business consultant in teaching safety He has taught an advanced travel course for professional journalists, humanitarian workers, missionaries, business people, vacationers, students, and others who are traveling outside their home region.
“One should make special preparations stay safe when travelling,” commented Dr. Patrick. “Most of us cannot afford to be sick and bring viruses, infections, and diseases back home.”
Patrick also added that staying safe while traveling extends far beyond the Coronavirus, avoiding more common threats like flu, cold, and other infections that can be as unpleasant and dangerous.
Dr. Patrick gave a sneak peek of some of his tips for on-plane safety while traveling, stressing that an aircraft is one of the most dangerous places for your health. He advised to:
- Turn off the air ventilation while on the aircraft
Ventilation that blows air on your face and brings seemingly needed relief of fresh air in a closed space actually holds a ton of bacteria from unkempt ventilation systems and other passengers. If somebody in the first-row coughs, the same infected air is inhaled by you if the ventilation is on.
- Avoid using water
Water systems on aircraft are proven unsafe in recent studies, which can result in development of bacteria. If you need to wash your hands on an aircraft, bring wipes instead of washing your hands in bacteria-laden tap water.
- Don’t drink plane coffee
The same unkempt water system is used to get water for your coffee/tea on a plane. If you are unable to survive without your morning coffee on a plane too, bring an empty thermos through security and buy coffee in an airport from a coffee shop.
For more tips for student traveling safety, consider attending a “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling” workshop led by Dr. Patrick. Organized by by Cierra Steinke from International Rotaract Club of Klaipeda, it will happen on on Tuesday, March 3rd, 12-1PM in Kaminskiene.
Regardless of whether you are going for a risky Spring break trip, keep in mind your safety and safety of those around you.
What are some of your tips for traveling? What are your thoughts on Coronavirus and its possible effect on LCC community?