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. The ECDC and WHO issue daily updates on the number of cases worldwide. The Netherlands too is dealing with the extensive spread of the new coronavirus.

The Dutch government has announced stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus as much as possible and to slow the rate of the epidemic. The purpose of these measures is to flatten the curve of infection, to spread the peak over a longer period, in order to ease pressure on the healthcare system, enabling it to care for those who are most vulnerable. An overview of Dutch measures can be found on the website of the Dutch government.

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).

How contagious is it?

The coronavirus is found in the nose and 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.

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.

 

Special measures for the airline industry

The number of flights by KLM is seriously reduced as a result of the new measures. In addition, many countries have issued restrictions for incoming travellers. KLM Health Services is closely monitoring the situation.

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. In many countries and during flight mouthmasks are mandatory. You can find current travel advisories on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Dutch). Always check the national guidelines of the country of your destination, they change continuously and vary per country.

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.

Stay at home if you have a fever (at least 38 °C) with respiratory complaints (cough and / or shortness of breath). Phone your GP if you have severe complaints and need medical assistance.

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. 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.

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.

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.

If you have serious symptoms, such as a high temperature (>38°C) and difficulty breathing, telephone your family doctor.

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, keep your distance from other people.

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.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strengthened its travel advice to various countries (in Dutch). At present, people are being urgently advised not to travel if not necessary. The WHO, ECDC, RIVM, IATA, Dutch Government and KLM Health Services are monitoring the situation closely, so they can take further measures immediately, if necessary.  Various airports have restrictions for arriving travellers. 

Many flights have been suspended.  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.