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A young girl in a germ mask

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been found in South Korea As officials work to contain the disease, there are many questions about how it impacts upcoming travel. There is a new travel advisory for New Zealanders relating to the MERS outbreak.

South Korea is taking MERS very seriously—quarantining over 2,500 people who have come into contact with those affected, and closing several hundred schools to prevent the spread. Airlines have increased their sanitising procedures for planes.

Many travellers from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are changing their travel plans and are choosing Japan as their destination instead. If you are planning a trip to Japan, you may find may be busier than usual, so confirm all your reservations.

This new outbreak highlights the need to stay up to date and to be prepared for changes in your travel—no matter where you are heading. Here are the top 5 things you should keep in mind for any trip.

Be informed

According to World Health Organization, MERS is a viral respiratory disease, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The virus appears to have a greater impact on people with a weakened immune system, older people, and those with chronic diseases.

While the source of the disease is not clear, it is not easily transmitted from person to person. Camels appear to be the likely source of infection to humans, so good hygiene is recommended around animals and particularly camels.

The following countries have reported cases of MERS: Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Middle East); France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom (UK) (Europe); Tunisia and Egypt (Africa); China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the Philippines (Asia); and the United States of America (Americas).

Register for alerts

Keep up to date by subscribing to travel advisories from Safe Travel and register your travel plans. This registration helps local embassy officials keep you advised of changing conditions and can help account for New Zealanders.

Sign up for travel alerts from your airline as well. That will keep you up to date on any schedule changes that can affect your trip.

Get travel cover

Get a quote for travel insurance as soon as you put down a deposit on your trip to get full protection in case of changing conditions at your destination.

If you’re not sure whether to be worried about your symptoms, Cover-More offers 24 hour emergency medical assistance to policy holders. Our medical team can help you find local providers that speak English and can help you get the care you need.

Be prepared

Review our list of life saving travel apps and see which ones you should have on your phone. Stay up to date on world events and claims advice that relate to your destination.

Stay aware of changing conditions around you. It’s tempting to unplug from the world on holiday, but it’s always a good idea to check the papers or the news to see what’s going on.

Make the best decision for you

In this case, travellers who have pre-existing health conditions need to be aware of the particular risks of their condition and how they can be impacted. Whether or not you decide to continue with your travel plans is a decision you have to make with your health care provider, separately from what may or may not be reimbursed.

Image courtesy of Flickr user AHLN; cropped from original