Coronavirus Update

The Covid-19 outbreak is now affecting people worldwide. On the 23/03/2020 the Zimbabwean government had imposed strict travel regulations for 21 days.  On the 19/04/2020 this was further extended to 03/05/2020.

Government has banned all non-essential travel and traffic, both inbound and outbound, except for the movement of cargo. Government has also closed all borders to human traffic, excluding returning residents.

Is it still safe to travel abroad?

As of 28/04/2020, the WHO has confirmed that there are almost 3,000,000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide and has issued a ‘Very High’ risk warning.

As cases continue to increase, many countries are requesting individuals to stay at home in self-quarantine.

Due to travel restrictions and bans worldwide, several airlines are not flying at this current time leaving it difficult to be able to travel.

Are there Immunity Passports?

WHO has published guidance on adjusting public health and social measures for the next phase of the COVID-19 response. Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection. There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

Full information is available on this link: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/immunity-passports-in-the-context-of-covid-19

Should I delay my trip until after the coronavirus is over?

The nature of volunteering abroad means that volunteers are needed to support projects all year-round. This need is still very real, despite the coronavirus.

However, due to the recent travel restrictions announced as of 19/04/2020, Volunteer Encounter will no longer accept the arrival of any volunteers for the next 14 days. All placements will be deferred to a later date of the participants’ choosing.

We strongly recommend that if you have booked to come on a project with us this year and are in doubt whether you can keep to your original project dates, that you reschedule your placement instead of cancelling. This ensures that any monies that have been paid can still be distributed accordingly to assist existing teams on the ground with the important work they are doing with community development projects and wildlife conservation.

Should there be any change or update to the existing travel restrictions we will proactively contact all impacted volunteers. Any volunteer or prospective volunteer, who would like to know more can contact the Volunteer Encounter Team.

Recommendations for international travellers

  • The CDC recommends that travellers should avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene.
  • Refrain from touching mouth and nose.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself against the coronavirus?

The WHO states that if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected Covid-19 and if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand washing or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

How does this compare to other outbreaks?

COVID-19 and the flu have very similar symptoms. However, the common flu kills significantly more people on an annual basis than COVID-19 has in its totality. Those most at risk for experiencing severe cases of the coronavirus include the elderly and those who have serious medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

There have been almost 3,000,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 200,000 recorded deaths with 213 countries affected worldwide.

Is there a vaccine?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicines against COVID-19. However, people, particularly those with serious illness, may need to be hospitalized so that they can receive life-saving treatment for complications.  Most patients recover thanks to such care. 

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are currently under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19. 

Final thoughts

Fear and panic over the coronavirus may be more prevalent than the actual sickness. However, you must adhere to the guidelines as set out by the WHO as well as any travel restrictions imposed by the government.

Make sure to gather your information from trusted and professional sources before cancelling any plans.

The severity of Covid-19 has meant that many of the underprivileged communities that our projects support are going to suffer even more. These communities are still in dire need of help. If you are in a position to help, even in a small way, please do so by donating through the link below. Even a small contribution can go a long way.

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