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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Health Advice for Chinese New Year Travellers

Travellers are already setting off on vacation in anticipation of the Year of the Snake. International SOS, a leader in global medical and security assistance, cautions that many medical ailments and accidents can easily be avoided with careful consideration and planning.

Dr. Craig Stark, Regional Medical Director of International SOS North Asia, said, “Travellers can improve the chance of a stress-free holiday by planning ahead and taking some simple health precautions during Chinese New Year holiday period.”

Health comes first
Before you leave home, make sure you know how your personal health could be affected by your destination. If travelling outside of the country, check the recommended vaccinations for your destination and immunize accordingly. Eat as healthily as you can while on the go and stay hydrated.

Chinese New Year falls during flu season. This year has seen an early start to the season, especially in parts of Europe and the USA.  If you haven’t already received your flu shot, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. This is especially important for people in higher-risk groups such as young children, older adults, pregnant women, or people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, or heart disease. Consult your physician before you embark on your journey. Practice good personal hygiene and wash hands frequently.

Be aware of what you eat and drink while travelling. In destinations with a high risk of travellers’ diarrhoea,   or if you are unsure of the safety of the water, use only boiled or bottled water for drinking, or brushing teeth,. Remember that ice may have been made from contaminated water and therefore may not be safe. Select thoroughly cooked food and consume it while it is fresh and hot.

Accident awareness
Road accidents are common. If you are driving, make sure to have plenty of sleep before you hit the road. Avoid travelling by car at night and break up longer trips into shorter, more manageable drives.
If you are travelling to unfamiliar destinations or remote areas, be sure to gather information on how to access your assistance services provider in case of an emergency. Take note of any potential security threats and be aware of the common hazards wherever you go.

Be especially vigilant about petty crime. Unsuspecting travellers are often the target of opportunistic crime in the form of pick pocketing and non-violent theft. Watch your items carefully and avoid wearing expensive jewellery when you are out and about.

Plan ahead
Don’t wait until problems arise on your travels. Be proactive before you go by consulting with your travel health professional, especially if you have a chronic health problem. Be sure to bring more prescription medication than you would normally need and always place them in your carry-on luggage and in their original container.

Know your schedule, have access to good maps, learn a few phrases in the local language and research any issues in advance. Also, be sure to follow the news for the area in which you are travelling. It's a good way to stay on top of local issues that may come up.