What do I need to know before I travel?
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Travel Advice for Coronavirus COVID-19 (Update 17)

13 Mar 2020

On 11 March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of coronavirus disease COVID-19 a pandemic, reflecting the worldwide spread of this new infection. The WHO produce daily situation reports listing all affected countries and the number of confirmed cases in each country.

All travellers to all destinations must be aware of how COVID-19 is transmitted, its symptoms, actions to take if symptoms of COVID-19 develop and the risk factors for severe infection.

Cruise Travel: As of the 12 March 2020 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against cruise ship travel for all British Nationals aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions. Further information available here: FCO press release

Recommendations for All Travellers

Prior to Departure

  • Check the FCO website¬†for the latest country specific outbreak advice including:
    • Travel restrictions: The FCO advises if there are travel restrictions to a country, including if you are advised to avoid all travel to a country. This advice is updated regularly and can change from booking/planning a trip to your departure date. You must regularly check for the latest country specific advice here: FCO website
    • Entry requirements set by the destination country in response to COVID-19.
    • Reports of COVID-19 at the destination and measures the country is taking in response to the outbreak.
    • Cruise Travel: As of the 12 March 2020 the FCO advise against cruise ship travel for all British Nationals aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions. Further information available here: FCO press release
    • Be prepared before you travel, seek advice from your healthcare practitioner to ensure that you receive any necessary health advice and vaccinations. Do this well in advance if possible (at least 4 weeks) as courses of vaccines may take time.
    • There is currently no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.
  • Always ensure you have travel health insurance cover, travel insurance is essential and must cover medical evacuation and repatriation in the event that you become unwell and have to be transported home.
    • Check the impact this outbreak may have on your travel insurance coverage before you travel. Even with good travel insurance, individuals with symptoms may need to self isolate and return home can be delayed.
    • Be aware that if the FCO advise against travel to a country and you continue with your trip, your travel insurance will be invalid.
    • If you have travel insurance and the FCO subsequently advise against travel to a country, you may be entitled to a full refund.
  • Consider taking a first aid kit, this should include some means of checking body temperature.
  • If travelling with medication, ensure you take adequate supplies for duration of trip and include extra for unforeseen delays, damage or loss.

During Travel

The outbreak situation of your destination may change and if it does you should follow local public health advice.

To try and prevent coronavirus infection during your trip you must:

  • Wash your hands. Frequent and careful hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds is one of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infection. This must be done before eating, after visiting the toilet and before touching your face. If soap, clean water and towels are not available, alcohol hand rub (containing at least 60% alcohol) can be used.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean.
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and their personal items.
  • There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of facemasks as a way of preventing infection outside of hospitals.

If you become unwell during your trip:

  • Promptly seek out medical advice.
  • Call your travel health insurer for advice on health care cover.
  • Postpone any further travel until you are well again.
  • Follow good hygiene practices: cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing, use tissues only once, disposing of them promptly and carefully, wash hands frequently.

On Returning Home

On you return to the UK, if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 you should follow advice on the following websites:

  • Travellers to Scotland should check the NHS inform
  • Travellers to other parts of the UK should check NHS.UK