Current information on the risk of infection with COVID-19 in hotels
Article by Dr. Tassilo Keilmann
Last updated: 25 minutes ago
Since the outbreak of the Corona virus in January 2020, we have been increasingly asked whether a trip to hotels is still safe and secure.
Basically, the risk of infection with the COVID-19 virus naturally varies by destination and intensity of possible local sources of infection.
While travel currently appears particularly risky in Asia, the situation in Europe seems currently more relaxed. The reports of corona infections in northern Italy, Austria and Germany are currently omnipresent in the media.
With daily updates, we try to summarize the information on the coronavirus as objectively and neutrally as possible. As hotel experts, we also compile individually researched information through direct, intensive communication with hoteliers.
Based on current scientific analysis, the coronavirus is particularly dangerous for humans based on the following attributes.
According to the latest evaluations, the incubation period is around 14 days. In contrast to many other virus classes, the COVID-19 virus can already be transmitted with high intensity during the incubation period.
This period is the duration of time in which people already carry the coronavirus without showing any symptoms of a disease. This means that although a person feels completely healthy, they can already be infected with the coronavirus and infect other people. In many cases, the coronavirus is diagnosed only after a patient has become ill and shows clear symptoms. Only then is a patient isolated and usually referred to a quarantine ward.
In most cases, it will be then already too late, as during the apparently "healthy period" of the incubation many people can be already infected. The coronavirus mutation COVID-19 is particularly dangerous due to the long incubation period and the high infection intensity. After the onset of the symptoms of the disease, however, the mode of transmission is increased to a particularly large extent by common viral transmission routes such as coughing, sneezing, blowing nose and further "exchange of body fluids" in the broadest sense. However, the exact ways of transmitting the coronavirus have not yet been fully researched.
Overview: Coronavirus infections by country
Cases of coronavirus infections in Italy
The coronavirus cases in Europe are most widespread in Italy, especially Northern Italy.
Italy's prime minister has to keep announcing bad news these days: more and more coronavirus infections, deaths, restricted areas, warnings of significant economic losses. Giuseppe Conte wants to spread a happy message around the world: "It is safe to travel and do tourism in Italy", the head of government announced on February 25, 2020. "Italy is a safe country: much safer than others." Whether in Venice, Milan, South Tyrol or Sicily: hoteliers all over the country are suffering from cancellations. The Association of Italian Travel and Tourism Association estimates the short-term cancellation rate at around 70 percent.
On 06.03.20, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin declared South Tyrol as a risk area for the novel coronavirus. The following regions in Italy were previously listed as risk areas: Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and the city of Vo in the province of Padua in the Veneto region. 128948 corona infections have been reported in Italy.
Coronavirus in Spain
Spain is currently making headlines worldwide with a hotel in Tenerife, approximately 1,000 guests had to be quarantined after a corona case.
As the news spread, Minister of Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto said on 25.02.20: "Spain is a safe destination", the number of cases is still low and the health system is "the best in the world." Tourism is the most important sector of the Spanish economy with a 15 percent share. So far, 130759 coronavirus infections have been registered in Spain.
COVID-19 infections in France
France, the nation with the most international visitors, is experiencing a slump in the tourism segment. Between 30 and 40 percent fewer tourists than expected are currently in the country, says Economics and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. "Of course, this has important consequences for the French economy." Tourism provides around ten percent of the gross domestic product and more than three million jobs. 92839 coronavirus cases are already known in France.
Coronavirus infections in Germany
100024 coronavirus infections have already been confirmed in Germany. The spread of the coronavirus currently seems to be focusing on North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. As described above, the incubation time of the corona virus is around 14 days. During this time, people with no health problems or symptoms can transmit the coronavirus and infect others. When the "hosts" travel to other regions, the viral spread to other parts of Germany is unfortunately very likely. In most cases, a diagnosis of the coronavirus is probably only made after the “onset of disease”. In many cases, a corona test will only be carried out after clear symptoms. Since the symptoms of the disease are initially similar to those of a cold or a flu-like infection (caused, for example, by the influenza virus), many infected people will probably refrain from a corona test. This means, that the undetermined number of total coronavirus infections could unfortunately be very high.
Corona virus in Austria
The coronavirus has also reached the Austrian capital. A 72-year-old from Vienna has been infected with the COVID-19 pathogen and is now in a hospital in the Austrian metropolis. The man had probably been on vacation in Italy before. So far, there were only infection cases known in the state of Tyrol in Austria.
The Austrian authorities have lifted the quarantine measures imposed on a coronavirus case for a hotel in Innsbruck. After tests on 62 employees and guests, the "Grand Hotel Europa" was no longer closed, said the authorities in Tyrol on February 26, 2020. All of those examined are doing well, but nine of them had been brought to an isolated location "for safety reasons". They were in close contact with a hotel receptionist who was infected with the corona virus. The woman, who comes from Italy, and her partner are in quarantine in the Innsbruck hospital. Both had been tested positive for the coronavirus, but already no longer have a fever. These are the first two cases of the novel coronavirus in Austria. Meanwhile, a total of 12051 coronavirus cases are registered in Austria.
Coronavirus in the Maldives
As of now, 14 Coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the Maldives.
On 12.03.20 the government of the Maldives has declared the state of public health emergency, in an effort to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Maldives.
The Maldives implements temporary travel bans on Spain, Germany and France:
Speaking at a press conference, the Minister of Tourism, Ali Waheed has announced that the Maldives will adopt travel ban on air travel from Spain, and certain regions of Germany and France.
The ban is implemented for the following:
Spain: All provinces and regions.
Germany: Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.
France: Île-de-France and Grand Est.
This travel ban will be effective from 00:00 hours on 15.03.20.
Maldives will restrict the entry of all persons, regardless of nationality, who have traveled from or have transited through Spain, and certain regions of Germany and France.
The Government had previously taken border control measures by temporarily suspending all tourist arrivals from China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran and from parts of South Korea.
Kuredu Island Resort in the Maldives has been locked down since 07.03.20, following two confirmed COVID-19 infections – the first positive cases for the Maldives.
The government’s Health Protection Agency said in a statement that two resort staff had come in direct contact with an Italian guest who was found to be positive with the virus on his return to Italy on 05.03.20.
Maldives health authorities said they had stopped travel to and from Kuredu Island Resort and the Summer Island resort.
The two unidentified staff are now in an isolation facility and being treated. With the first quarantine lock-down on the Maldives, no one is allowed into or out of Kuredu Island Resort.
Minister of Health, Abdulla Ameen, revealed on 08.03.20 that authorities have identified 173 individuals who were in contact with the two people that tested positive for COVID-19 on Kuredu Island Resort.
Speaking at a press conference held at Dharubaaruge convention centre in the Maldives regarding the response and preventive measures being taken, Minister Abdulla Ameen stated that 93 of the individuals who came into contact with the virus patients have been isolated in rooms on-island.
However, he did not disclose the whereabouts of the remaining 80 individuals, who were identified via contact tracing.
In response to a media inquiry about individuals, who were in contact with patients, travelling to other locations, the minister assured that the authorities were identifying and closely monitoring such individuals for symptoms of infection.
Minister Ameen added that authorities have directed the resort on how to manage the individuals that came into contact with COVID-19 patients, adding that relevant island councils have also been informed.
An employee of Kuredu resort, who was in Foakaidhoo, Shaviyani Atoll, when they began to exhibit suspected symptoms of COVID-19, was also transferred to the quarantine facility at Farukolhufushi.
There are currently 1,389 people on Kuredu Island Resort placed on lockdown following the virus outbreak in the Maldives, including 699 tourists, 270 local staff and 420 expatriate staff.
In addition to Kuredu, the health ministry revealed during the press conference that 11 individuals have also been isolated on Sandies Bathala Resort. The Health Protection Agency declared later that night that two guests holidaying at the resort also tested positive for the virus.
Managing director of state-run Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation, Thoyyib Mohamed, said destination authorities were taking all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“One of the advantages we have is that all the island resorts are isolated and not connected to one another, which helps in preventing any spread of the virus,” he said.
Maldivian authorities have suspended flights to and from mainland China since January 30, 2020, according to current information issued by the Federal Foreign Office of the Maldives.
This is a safety measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 corona virus in the Maldives. Increased entry controls to identify sick travelers should be expected in the Maldives. On February 26, 2020, the Maldives Minister of Health, Abdulla Ameen, announced the following entry bans:
All cruise ships are now prohibited from entering the Maldives territory or from mooring in a port. An entry ban also applies to people who have recently visited Iran or South Korea. All direct flight connections between mainland China and the Maldives have already been cut (see above). Around 280,000 Chinese visited the Maldives in 2019, so the Maldives tourism sector is heavily dependent on Chinese tourists. Minister Ameen said that the Maldives did not register a positive case of the virus so far, but the government treats all suspected cases with caution. He stressed that the government continued its 14-day quarantine process and continued screening for the virus according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Coronavirus in the Seychelles
The government of the Seychelles announced on 16.03.20 that it will ban all visitors from Europe, Mayotte and Reunion.
The move is in line with a global response increasingly concerned with preventing a massive wave of corona infections that overwhelm medical facilities.
"Seychellois who are currently in Europe and want to enter Seychelles will be able to do so, but they will go into an obligatory quarantine for 14 days," said Jude Gedeon, the health commissioner following a high-level Economic Forum at State House.
In total, 7 coronavirus infection cases have been reported yet on the Seychelles. Two Seychellois who arrived in Seychelles from Italy have tested positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon said on 14.03.20.
In an interview on SBC television, Jude Gedeon said, “This morning we learned that two Seychellois who came in on 11th March had contact with someone in Italy who tested positive. So we went to see them and although one of them only had a dry cough, we decided to test them. Their tests this evening are positive for both man and woman.”
The two patients have been transferred from the quarantine facility at Perseverance to the isolation unit set up at Anse Royale hospital for treatment and case management.
The two cases are the first confirmed instances of the coronavirus touching the isolated island nation of the Seychelles, which had taken strong steps to try to prevent foreign tourists from bringing the infectious disease to the population of 95,000.
The authorities of the Seychelles have banned the following groups of people from entering the country: Anyone who has visited mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea or Italy in the past 14 days will be refused entry to the Seychelles.
This also applies when entering the Republic of the Seychelles by ship. The spread of the respiratory disease COVID-19 (coronavirus) leads to increased entry controls in the Seychelles, health checks with temperature measurements, and in individual cases also entry bans.
The Principal Secretary of Finance of the Seychelles, Damien Thesee, said on 04.03.20: "We have already seen that there is a decline in tourism arrival from two huge markets of the Seychelles – China and Italy. The coronavirus disease is also having an impact in countries where we get our tourism earnings, like France and Germany."
The governor of the Central Bank, Caroline Abel, said that if the COVID-19 issue persists it will definitely affect the economy of the Seychelles negatively and this is why a new assessment is needed.
Two cases of infection with the coronavirus in the Seychelles have been reported so far. Wheter tests on COVID-19 are performed in the Seychelles and how many, is unclear. The long incubation period of 14 days means that a viral chain of infection without symptoms is also possible in the Seychelles.
On 11.03.20, Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon reiterated that there will be a negative impact on the Seychelles if flights are cancelled, adding that already there are many cancellations and some flights already are coming nearly empty. Besides, he said that airlines are needed to bring in much-needed goods to the islands of the Seychelles including food and medicine.
The health authority will also be releasing new measures with regards to travelling and Gedeon said that Seychellois are not encouraged to travel to three new European countries where there have been new developments in the trend of the coronavirus outbreak. These countries are Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Reactions of hoteliers to the coronavirus
A hotelier from Austria plans to inform all guests of strict hygiene regulations after check-in. A minimum distance to other guests of at least one meter should be maintained. This regulation was advised by the WHO. Guests are also asked not to use whirlpools at the same time with other guests, if possible. Guests with symptoms of illness should stay in the room and call a doctor via the reception desk.
Source: Hotelier from Austria / Wellness Heaven
A "well-known luxury hotel in Bavaria" rejected the booking request from a couple from South Tyrol in Italy. The reason given by the five-star hotel is that the couple would travel from an "infected zone". The Italian couple complains about being discriminated.
A hotel consisting mainly of luxury villas in the Seychelles tells us about a bizarre check-in. A healthy-looking couple from Asia arrived last week, wearing compressed-air protective suits.
The couple also wanted to know from the management of the Seychelles hotel, whether it was safe to use the private pool wearing the protective suits.
Source: Hotelier from the Seychelles / Wellness Heaven
A hotelier from Germany tells Wellness Heaven that 20 disinfection stations have now been set up at different locations in the four-star spa hotel. It was difficult to buy these stations containing hand disinfectants at short notice according to the hotelier, this was possible only via a befriended medical doctor.
Source: Hotelier from Germany / Wellness Heaven
A hotelier from Italy reports a high cancellation rate. 80% of the stays for the next two weeks have so far been cancelled. Travelers simply accept the cancellation fees, some of which are as high as the total price of the stay. The hotelier tries to inform via his website that so far no cases of the coronavirus are known in the region around the Italian hotel.
Source: Hotelier from Italy / Wellness Heaven
A hotelier from Northern Italy also reports high cancellations. He tries to offer the vacant rooms with a considerable discount on his own website and via booking portals.
Source: Hotelier from Italy / Wellness Heaven
A well-known luxury hotel in the Maldives reports to Wellness Heaven a cancellation rate of 75% for March 2020. Most cancelers would state the coronavirus as a reason, although no infection with the virus has been confirmed in the Maldives so far. The hotel management is considering to release hotel staff at short notice without payment, in order to reduce the high cost pressure on the hotel.
Source: Hotelier from the Maldives / Wellness Heaven
A Maldivian luxury hotelier, on the other hand, only reports positively on the coronavirus. A family from Milan in Italy has been staying since mid-February in the hotel in the Maldives – and has since extended the stay twice. The family still refuses to return to Milan – using the Maldivian resort as a luxurious "quarantine island".
Source: Hotelier from the Maldives / Wellness Heaven
The WHO recommends the following measures to contain COVID-19, which also protect against the common cold and flu viruses:
Wash and disinfect hands regularly,
Keep away at least by one meter from coughing, sneezing people,
Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands,
Wear a breathing mask (at least FFP2 class) if you have symptoms yourself, or cough in the elbow,
Ventilate rooms regularly,
Clean surfaces in the vicinity of sick people with disinfectants that carry the "limited virucidal plus" or "virucidal" label.
How do I know that I am infected?
One problem with the novel coronavirus (also called Sars-CoV-2) is that the symptoms are not specific, but rather are similar to those of a cold or flu. Symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat or fever are typical. Some also suffer from diarrhea. "Most sufferers report fever," said WHO expert Bruce Aylward after returning from a week-long trip to the affected areas in China. "Many also have a dry cough, only a few have a runny nose." In severe cases of the disease, there are also breathing problems and pneumonia.
Dr. Tassilo Keilmann
Wellness Heaven Hotel Guide, Klosterweg 41, 82335 Berg, Germany.
Phone: +49 8151 99 841 77