New coronavirus (COVID-19)

KLM Health Services supports companies to implement their Duty of Care in the field of travel and health. This is also called Travel Risk Management. We ensure that travelers and expats stay healthy, safe and fit. On this page you will find information and the frequently asked questions about the new coronavirus (COVID-19). We update this information frequently.

What is the new coronavirus and where has it been reported?

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China (December 2019). The disease then spread across the world. The official name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2. The official name of the disease is COVID-19. In practice it happens that these names are used interchangeably. On Wednesday, 11 March, the WHO officially classified the virus outbreak as a pandemic. This means the disease has spread worldwide. The ECDC and WHO issued daily updates on the number of cases worldwide. Countries where many cases have been reported are classified as having “widespread transmission”. Which countries these are can be found on the website of the RIVM.

Where has the virus been reported?

The WHO reported the first cases of COVID-19 in December 2019 in China. From there, the disease has spread further throughout the world. Cases have also been reported in Europe, with a major outbreak in Northern Italy.. In the meantime, cases of illness have also been reported in the Netherlands. The number of cases is expected to increase. On the website of the ECDC and the WHO, the number of disease cases worldwide is recorded daily. Countries where many cases of illness have been reported are called ‘countries with widespread transmission’. The RIVM keeps track of which countries these are.

What are the symptoms of this virus?

In the image below you can find the symptoms and characteristics that often give an indication of a coronavirus infection (COVID-19). *Or elderly people feeling feverish, since they do not always develop fever.

How does infection occur?

How the virus has come to infect people is not yet entirely clear. Bats often carry viruses. It is possible that the virus was transferred from a bat to another mammal, which then transmitted the virus to a human. The infection subsequently spread human-to-human.

How contagious is it?

The coronavirus is found in the throat and spreads through small droplets expelled when coughing and sneezing. Sick people are advised to cough and sneeze into the inside of their elbow and to use paper tissues. This will reduce the chances of infecting others. The droplets can also end up on objects in the patient’s surroundings. The virus cannot survive there for long, but if “fresh” droplets end up on your hands and you then touch your face (mouth, nose, eyes), you could become infected. For this reason, it is important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. We also advise if it’s not necessary to avoid physical contact with others and to no longer shake hands with anyone.

What happens in the event of a possible infection?

People with certain symptoms who could therefore potentially be infected with the coronavirus are quarantined as a precautionary measure. They are tested for the virus and efforts are made to ascertain who they have been in contact with. These people may be infected with the virus and are therefore being monitored for 14 days as a precaution. During this period, we keep a close eye on whether they develop symptoms. If this is the case, they have to stay at home. In the event of mild complaints, they should take time to recover. But if they develop a fever or become seriously ill, they will be tested for COVID-19. Patients with the coronavirus which has been detected with a laboratory test should remain in ‘home isolation’ until the symptoms are completely resolved for at least 24 hours. If a family member of a corona patient has complaints, he or she will not be tested. In that case, we assume that this family member also has the coronavirus. This family member must also stay at home until he / she has been free of complaints for at least 1 day.

Special measures for the airline industry

The number of flights by KLM will be seriously reduced as a result of the new measures. In addition, many countries are issuing restrictions for incoming travellers. KLM Health Services and KLM ISSO are closely monitoring the situation and, depending on developments, new decisions will be taken.

What preventive measures do we advice frequent travelers and expats?

The virus cannot survive easily outside the body and can be killed easily with common detergents and cleaning products. Follow the standard hygiene procedures, such as washing hands regularly. You won’t need to take any additional measures at this moment. Wearing facemasks is not medically necessary. You can find current travel advisories on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Dutch). Furthermore, it is important to avoid contact with animals and sick people and to only consume animal products if they are properly heated/cooked.

Travel Risk Management

KLM Health Services supports companies to implement their Duty of Care in the field of travel and health. This is also called Travel Risk Management. We ensure that travelers and expats stay healthy, safe and fit. Interested in the opportunities of Travel Risk Management for your organization? Please call or send an email for more information to Danny van Altena, Health & Travel consultant at KLM Health Services.

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19)

General

The official name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2. The official name of the disease is COVID-19. In practice it happens that these names are used interchangeably.

See your doctor if you have a fever (at least 38 °C) with respiratory complaints (cough and / or shortness of breath). In addition, the complaints originated within 14 days after returning from a country / region with widespread transmission or the complaints occurred within 14 days after contact with a patient with a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Countries with a widespread transmission can be found on the RIVM website.

The WHO reported the first cases of COVID-19 in December 2019 in China. From there, the disease has spread further throughout the world. On Wednesday, 11 March, the WHO officially classified the virus outbreak as a pandemic. This means the disease has spread worldwide. The number of cases is expected to increase. On the website of ECDC and the WHO, the number of disease cases worldwide is recorded daily. Countries where many cases of illness have been reported are called ‘countries with widespread transmission’. The RIVM keeps track of which countries these are.

People with certain symptoms who could therefore potentially be infected with the coronavirus are quarantined as a precautionary measure. They are tested for the virus and efforts are made to ascertain who they have been in contact with. These people may be infected with the virus and are therefore being monitored for 14 days as a precaution. During this period it is monitored whether they develop complaints Patients with the coronavirus which has been detected with a laboratory test should remain in ‘home isolation’ until the symptoms are completely resolved for at least 1 day. If a family member of a corona patient has complaints, he or she will not be tested. In that case, we assume that this family member also has the coronavirus. This family member must also stay at home until he / she has been free of complaints for at least 1 day.

How the virus has come to infect people is not yet entirely clear. Bats often carry viruses. It is possible that the virus was transferred from a bat to another mammal, which then transmitted the virus to a human. The infection subsequently spread human-to-human. The RIVM (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) reports that, in China, few family members of patients have been infected. The coronavirus is found in the throat and spreads through small droplets expelled when coughing and sneezing. Sick people are advised to cough and sneeze into the inside of their elbow and to use paper tissues. This will reduce the chances of infecting others. The droplets can also end up on objects in the patient’s surroundings. The virus cannot survive there for long, but if “fresh” droplets end up on your hands and you then touch your face (mouth, nose, eyes), you could become infected. For this reason, it is important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. We also advise you to avoid physical contact with others and not to shake hands anymore. However, the sicker someone becomes, the more virus they transmit. The virus cannot survive easily outside the body and can be killed easily with common detergents and cleaning products.

Contact your doctor if you:

  • have a fever (at least 38° C) and;
  • have respiratory complaints (coughing and shortness of breath);

Your GP will consult the Public Health Service (GGD) or perform an exam for the novel coronavirus. Do you suffer from milder complaints, such as a nose cold, cough or a temperature to 38 *C, then stay at home. Prevent infecting others. Keep your distance from other people. You don’t have to call the doctor. Your complaints are mild.

The most important measures people can take to prevent contagion are very simple. These are general hygiene measures that apply to all viruses to prevent flu and colds. It is always important to follow these:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and use disinfectant hand gel or spray if necessary.
  • Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow.
  • Use paper handkerchiefs.
  • Do not shake hands and avoid other physical contact.

Furthermore, it is important to avoid contact with animals and sick people and only consume animal products if they are well heated.

Coronaviruses spread through humans and animals. They do not survive well outside the body, certainly not on cardboard, packaging, or other material. Other coronaviruses do not spread this way and we have no reason to believe that this is any different for the new coronavirus.

In the Netherlands we only recommend masks for medical staff. It only helps if you use special masks that close tightly over your nose and mouth. You should use masks carefully and change them regularly. This is almost impossible in daily use. Wearing a mouth cap is not recommended for staff at Schiphol. It can be quite stressful if you do not know how to wear a mouth cap properly. This means that it sometimes results in an extra risk as people will touch their faces several times in an attempt to position the mask properly. A mouth cap for a sick person is a useful precaution, because it can prevent the virus droplets from getting into the air; they stay inside the mouth cap.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strengthened its travel advice to various countries (in Dutch). At present, people are being urgently advised to avoid travelling to Wuhan or other cities in Hubei province. Elsewhere in China, people are being advised to only travel to these cities if it is strictly necessary. The WHO, ECDC, RIVM, IATA, Dutch Government, KLM Health Services and KLM ISSO are monitoring the situation closely, so they can take further measures immediately, if necessary. The WHO has classified the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In the Netherlands, a notification obligation for suspected cases of infection with the new coronavirus has been put in place. This implies that healthcare professionals must immediately report if they suspect that someone is infected. In general, travellers are advised to avoid markets with live animals and sick people and to take general hygiene measures. Various airports are introducing restrictions for arriving travellers. People who have been in an area with widespread transmission over the previous days are not admitted. KLM is taking this into account in drawing up flight schedules.

Flights to Beijing and Shanghai have been suspended until at least 28 March. Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen are further suspended until May 3rd. In addition, flights to Hong Kong take place every other day until May 3rd. Up to and including 3 April, KLM will be suspending service to Venice, Milan and Naples. KLM will continue to serve other destinations in Italy (Rome, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Genoa and Catánia), albeit less frequently. Flight schedules may change at short notice, considering the current pace at which developments are taking place. Aircraft are equipped with filters that purify the air and eliminate pathogens. Studies have been conducted to determine whether the filters are effective against the coronavirus. The filters installed in KLM aircraft work well against the new coronavirus. KLM does not transport passengers who are sick. However, a passenger may fall ill unexpectedly during a flight. As a precaution, KLM has therefore stocked so-called “corona kits” aboard all European and intercontinental flights. These kits contain protective devices that may be used if there is unexpectedly a sick passenger on board, who may be infected with the coronavirus. Additionally, standard maintenance and cleaning procedures also ensure hygienic conditions on board.

The government has decided not to perform checks. Right now, when passengers at Dutch airports are checked for fever, they mostly find people with flu or a cold.

The travel advice from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has four color codes. Here you will find the general explanation about the color codes (in Dutch). The color codes can be adjusted for countries or regions where the new coronavirus (COVID19) has been found. View all travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here (in Dutch).