COVID 19: Keep Calm | Carry on (#5)

This is the 5th  update in our Covid 19 announcements to XirCammini Members.

Our underlying advice remains, “Keep calm | act sensibly | exercise discipline | (where permissible) carry on.”

Introduction: Thank You

We want to start as always with a heartfelt note of thanks and caution:

Thanks: We want to thank all the healthcare professionals, paramedics, disciplined forces, volunteers and all those engaged in the effort to halt and or heal. Thank you.

Caution: A word of caution to everyone else out there in touch with the healthcare profession. Please be supportive of the efforts and instructions in place. These are there to protect us. Please cooperate fully with the medical fraternity. They are our ultimate line of defense.

Overseas Trekking

General Instructions & Announcements from Airlines

Today we thought of providing in one document links to information from the most commonly used airlines to and from Malta typically used by hikers travelling from and to Malta.

There are Maltese that are endeavouring to return to Malta and we thank AirMalta for their commitment towards repatriation.

Most airlines have been very pro-active in either providing refunds or re-scheduling. All re-assure passengers of the ventilation / filtration systems available in aeroplanes which is similar to hospitals and stops a a wide range of virus and bacteria.

WizzAir also provides excellent general information on Covid-19, transmission risks, etc in addition to the customary flight information due to the disruptions.

These are the updates from the airlines mostly used by the Maltese (airlines in alphabethical order) travelling for hiking trips abroad:

AirMalta

AirMalta: As mentioned above, Airmalta continued to organise repatriation flights over the weekend and updated its news / links relating to Covid 19 on its website: https://www.airmalta.com/covid-19-info

British Airways

British Airways: https://www.britishairways.com/en-li/information/incident/coronavirus/latest-information?dr=&dt=British%20Airways%20%7C%20Book%20Flights,%20Holidays,%20City%20Breaks%20%26%20Check%20In%20Online&scheme=&audience=travel&CUSTSEG=&GGLMember=&ban=%7C%7CP1M%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7CHOME%7C%7C%7C%7CL4%7C%7C%7C%7Canonymous-inspiration%7C%7C%7C&KMtag=c&KMver=1.0&clickpage=HOME

EasyJet

EasyJet is also offering re-scheduling of flights to those effected: https://www.easyjet.com/en/help/preparing-to-fly/latest-travel-information

Emirates

Emirates Airlines emphasizes more on cleaning of their planes and offering flexibility to their loyalty programme customers: https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-offers-travellers-added-peace-of-mind/

Lufthansa

Lufthansa details procedure  for cancellation and/or rebooking of tickets as well as providing information of limited flights remaining in place for example to the USA even beyond 14th March: https://www.lufthansa.com/xx/en/flight-information

Ryanair

Updates from Ryanair: https://www.ryanair.com/ie/en/useful-info/disruptions-and-refunds/coronavirus-covid-19/flight-passenger-restrictions

The restriction on Italy currently in place is until 8th April: https://corporate.ryanair.com/news/ryanair-suspends-all-italian-flights-to-wed-8-apr-as-government-extends-restrictions-to-all-italy/

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines updates of all flights that have been cancelled. Turkish Airlines is giving refunds for unused tickets. https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/announcements/coronavirus-outbreak/

Vueling

Vueling are offering rescheduling of flights effected: http://vuelingnews.com/?lang=en

WizzAir

WizzAir provided very good information on Covid-19, sysmptoms, risk of transmission etc.  and also answered questions specifically relating to their flights. Ay information website in this respect:

https://wizzair.com/en-gb/coronavirus-information and https://wizzair.com/en-gb/latest-travel-information

Local Trekking

XirCammini Approach

We firmly believe that hiking in fresh air has significant physical, psychological and social benefits. Under the current circumstances that advocate a measure of ‘social distancing’ the latter benefit may need be placed on the back-burner. However While not holding larger group walks as XirCammini , we will continue to recommend hiking solo or in small groups while respecting the directives currently in place.

Also, within this ambit, the weekly Wed Walks will continue to be held. These generally attract not more than 10 people walking at a pace of between 5.5km – 6km an hour spacing out, on average, over a 15-minute (i.e. 1.5km or 1,500m) time lag. Therefore, on balance – even under the current climate – these do not pose any increased risk.

We will also continue to harp on the following common-sense advice as recommended by ECDC, WHO and government directives i.e. Please:

  1. Do not join the trek if you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experiencing trouble to breathe;
  2. Do not join the trek if you or persons close to you have recently returned from Italy, Spain, France, Germany or Switzerland. You should be in quarantine;
  3. Avoid any form of physical contact with others (i.e. shaking hands, hugging, kissing etc.) and try to maintain the 1-metre physical distance;
  4. Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
  5. Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  7. Check list of persons coming and make personal arrangements for car-pooling. Keep car windows open as much as possible.

Conclusion: be respectful

We conclude by again thanking all the healthcare professionals, paramedics, disciplined forces, volunteers and all those engaged in the effort to halt and or heal. Thank you.

It’s good to also see that some even from the front-line have – to varying degrees – a little bit of time to keep up-to-date with news and social media, to also post photos / profile pics in scrubs akin to haz-mat gear, to take time out and in one occasion also celebrating a birthday of a colleague working on the front-line around the clock. Maintaining a positive morale is half the victory.

Also some circumstances in life tend to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. it is worth remembering that in any war:

  1. We are not all on the front-line. If we were it means that the war is already almost lost. Wars with a successful strategy and outcome have a front-line, strong ‘behind the lines’ organisation, logistics, media / PR, opportunities to ‘take time out’, entertainment and humour (even if stoic at times) and a strong sense of, “keep calm and carry on” aimed at instilling a strong sense of balance.
  2. If / when you are visible your words and actions influence others. Be judicious in both.
  3. Prejudice brings out the worst in people. In this case, we’re all on the same side. let us be respectful towards each other.
  4. Unfortunately social media has replaced the soap-box and created multiple mutations of preachers who with evangelical zeal spout or advocate hell’s fire and brimstone at /for anyone who dares disagree with their point of view even on mundane matters. Bad as Covid-19 may be there are worse viruses infecting some of us and making themselves manifest particularly in such times. I am referring to such viruses as prejudice, gossip, bigotry, conceited self-righteousness and so on. If one is unable to speak (their version of the truth) unto others with respect then it would probably be more beneficial if we maintain our silence. After all it is our actions (not our words) that speak most volumes.

Life is a journey | keep walking | keep smiling | keep safe | keep calm | act sensibly | exercise self-discipline and (where permissible) carry on.

COVID 19: Keep Calm | Carry on (#4)

This is the 4th update in our Covid 19 announcements to XirCammini Members.

Our underlying advice remains, “Keep calm | act sensibly | exercise discipline | carry on.”

Introduction: Thank You

We will start Alert #4 by reiterating our thanks to the healthcare fraternity and those around them engaged in halting and healing. We also reiterate our note of caution:

Thanks: We want to thank all the healthcare professionals, paramedics, disciplined forces, volunteers and all those engaged in the effort to halt and or heal. Thank you.

Caution: A word of caution to everyone else out there in touch with the healthcare profession. Please be supportive of the efforts and instructions in place. These are there to protect us. Please cooperate fully with the medical fraternity. They are our ultimate line of defense.

Overseas Trekking

General Instructions & Announcements

We will continue to monitor local, regional and international news and advisories in order to update our members as necessary.

There is a general increase in cases mainly in continental Europe prompting more measures from respective governments.

Latest from Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the Pilgrim’s office have announced today that they will remain closed until further notice. This coincides almost with the Spanish government’s decision to declare a state of alert today coming into effect on Saturday.

XirCammini has secured the refund of all payments made by its members to the various accommodation providers for the Camino Norte. This was due to take place next week and we will distribute these to the members shortly.  

Latest from Malta

Meanwhile in Malta, the government announced today that any incoming passengers (including tourists) from any country need to observe the 14-day quarantine on penalty of € 1,000 per breach.

Any returning trekkers are strongly urged to abide by the quarantine directives.

Schools closed for a week. Similarly, churches closed and catechism classes suspended; the church arranging for televised and streamed liturgical services. Hospitals and old people’s homes also have restrictions or in some cases a ban on visiting times. This is the latest from the Times of Malta on the government announcements: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/watch-robert-abela-gives-update-on-coronavirus-measures.777839

Gatherings of groups of people, while not prohibited, are actively discouraged. Many of the local trekking groups have cancelled their hikes until further notice.

Local Trekking: Universal Peace Walk 1543AD

After having consulted the persons who were planning to participate in the event and weighed this against on-going directives and developments, XirCammini announces with regret that it will be postponing the Universal Peace Walk 1543AD event of 15th March 2020.

The Committee has taken the decision with great responsibility as a precautionary measure since the current Covid situation remains fluid and is constantly developing.

While – until possible to do so – we encourage exercise in sunlight and fresh air solo or in small groups we also advocate that interaction with others continues to follow the simple safety principles advocated by ECDC, WHO and the Government of Malta. XirCammini represented these principles in all of it Covid advisories (1 -4) contained herein.

XirCammini will refund in full the contribution collected for transport and the Credencial. We ask those who paid and wish to collect the refund to provide us with IBAN details so that we can transfer the € 5 or € 10 contribution back to them.

Practical Prevention Advice

We will end today’s advisory with some practical self-risk assessment / prevention.

The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) may not show signs of infection for a number of days. By the time they fever or cough manifest themselves Fibrosis may already have taken effect in the lungs.

A simple self-test each morning:

Take a deep breath and hold it for more than 10 seconds.

If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness and so on this an indication that there is no Fibrosis in the lungs; i.e. no infection in the lungs. Slef-check every morning.

The following is a synthesis of a piece from the Stanford hospital board:

Preventative measures:
  1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
  2. This new virus is not heat-resistant. Therefore temperatures of 26/27 degrees will kill it. Sunlight and heat limit the growth or longevity of coronavirus.
  3. A coronavirus induced sneeze can be airborne for about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne.
  4. Viruses dropping on
    1.  a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours. Therefore it is very important to regularly wipe metal surfaces with  anti-bacteria wipes and wash hands with anti-bacterial soap.
    1. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent will kill it.
  5. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Do not to drink liquids with ice. Keep your mouth and throat moist with sips at 15-minute intervals if possible. Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill the virus. If you don’t drink enough water more regularly, the virus can enter your windpipe and into the lungs.
  6.  Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minute.
  7. A lot can happen in 5 minutes. Avoid rubbing your eyes, unwittingly picking nose etc.
  8. Gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice.
Recognising the Symptoms of Coronavirus:
  1. It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat lasting 3/4 days.
  2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5/6 days further.
  3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.
  4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like you are drowning. It is imperative you then seek immediate attention.

Conclusion: A Reminder on Trekking Etiquette

  1. Do not join the trek if you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experiencing trouble to breathe;
  2. Do not join the trek if you have recently returned from Italy, Spain, France, Germany or Switzerland. You should be in quarantine;
  3. Avoid any form of physical contact with others (i.e. shaking hands, hugging, kissing etc.) and try to maintain the 1 metre physical distance;
  4. Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
  5. Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

In the face of all this it is worth reminding ourselves that we are not circumstances and we can choose not to be defined or constrained by circumstances.

Life is a journey | keep walking | keep smiling | keep (yourself and others) safe. Take care.

COVID 19: Keep Calm | Carry on (#3)

This is the 3rd update in our Covid 19 announcements to XirCammini Members.

Our underlying advice remains, “Keep calm | act sensibly | exercise discipline | carry on.”

Introduction: Thank You

We want to start with a heartfelt note of thanks and caution:

Thanks: We want to thank all the healthcare professionals, paramedics, disciplined forces, volunteers and all those engaged in the effort to halt and or heal. Thank you.

Caution: A word of caution to everyone else out there in touch with the healthcare profession. Please be supportive of the efforts and instructions in place. These are there to protect us. Please cooperate fully with the medical fraternity. They are our ultimate line of defense.

Overseas Trekking

General Instructions & Announcements

We will continue to monitor local, regional and international news and advisories in order to update our members as necessary.

Based on the latest official directives Malta has suspended travel to and from Spain, Switzerland, France and Germany with effect from mid-night last night. These accrue on the earlier ban on flights to / from Italy (which is still in total lock-down). Local authorities have set up a helpline for stranded travellers: +356 22042200.

Equally important is the 14-day quarantine period imposed on travellers arriving from the following countries and on persons they have come into contact with (i.e. co-workers and family members) in the meantime. A € 1,000 fine applies to all those breaking the quarantine rule. The government is also putting in place a help-system for the delivery of medicinal and other supplies to people in home quarantine.

  1. Italy: anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  2. China (including Hong Kong): anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  3. Singapore: anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  4. Japan: anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  5. Iran: anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  6. South Korea: anyone who returned to Malta from February 26 onward.
  7. France: anyone who returned to Malta from March 11 onward.
  8. Spain: anyone who returned to Malta from March 11 onward.
  9. Germany: anyone who returned to Malta from March 11 onward.
  10. Switzerland: anyone who returned to Malta from March 11 onward.

(Source: Times of Malta: 12th March 2020)

Further information at European level regarding the latest updates is available from: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en

This is the EU Centre for Disease Prevention and Control with the latest, up-to-date, objective information from which all local EU governments are drawing information.

XirCammini Members on Overseas Treks

Camino Norte, Spain 21st – 28th March 2020

Following yesterdays’ official announcements cancelling flights to and from Spain, regrettably the Camino del Norte has been postponed to later on in the year. XirCammini is currently in touch with the accommodation providers and will be writing individually to all members concerned regarding recouping of expenses shortly.

We have worked around the clock since yesterday and are pleased to inform you that so far our efforts to reverse costs has been successful. You will be hearing from us.

Lenten Retreat, Spain 29th – 31st March 2020

Similarly the Lenten Retreat in Miraz has been cancelled. The Confraternity of St. James who were kindly going to host us in ther Albergue in Miraz have been informed as have all the participants.

Il Sentiero Degli Dei, Italy 30th April – 4th May 2020

Since the official travel ban, lock-down and quarantine procedures in Malta and Italy respectively are in place until 3rd April 2020 we have been monitoring the situation very closely.

Our recommendation is that we wait until then and in the 1st week of April take a decision on whether or how to proceed.

Notwithstanding this, however, if there are hikers who were intending to join these treks but who – for whatever reason – from now wish to pull out, please let us know and we will return in full the contribution you have forwarded towards the event. We trek to relax and not to stress. While, on balance, it seems sensible to wait until early April to take a decision if anyone has made up his or her mind and is stressing about it please let us know. We will return in full any contribution forwarded to us in connection with this hiking trip.

Local Trekking Events

General Instructions & Announcements

While the official announcement locally was to cancel events with 2,000+ people and our trekking events attract much, much less people we advocate that members act sensibly and exercise caution and self-discipline.

Our activities attract, in general, less than 20 people on weekly evening walks, less than 50 on weekend walks and less than 100 on annual events.  Therefore, one can easily exercise caution for the common good while still practicing a pastime that is known to have significant physical, pscychological and social benefits to all concerned. So, the underlying advice remains, “Keep calm | act sensibly | exercise discipline | carry on.”

We have highlighted our recommendations, based on the ECDC, WHO and local health authorities’ directives in our first think-piece, i.e. https://xircammini.org/presidents-pen/covid-19-keep-calm-be-sensible-carry-on/

These are:

  1. Avoid physical contact with others (shaking hands, hugging or kissing). Where possible a minimum 1 metre distance is recommended;
  2. If you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experiencing trouble to breathe do not join a trek. Seek medical attention. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room;
  3. Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use hand sanitizers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
  4. Cleaning hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Since we may carry some food and drink one also has to take into account the 5 key drivers of food safety i.e.:

It is always sensible to observe the five key points to food safety i.e.

  1. Cleanliness (food, surfaces and utensils);
  2. Separation of raw and cooked food;
  3. Thorough cooking;
  4. Maintaining food at safe temperatures; and
  5. Using safe water.

Universal Peace Walk 1543AD

While the official announcement was to cancel events with 2,000+ people and our trekking events attract much, much less people we advocate that members to act sensibly and exercise caution and self-discipline.

Given the foregoing, XirCammini decided to proceed as follows on the Universal Peace Walk 1543AD

  1. The event will go ahead because the
  • The likelihood is that it will not attract more than 50 people;
  • Hikers – by nature – stagger out when walking; and
  • We will be walking in open spaces.

So, the Walk is still taking place BUT

2. We will be cancelling the transport to avoid having 50 + people in the same confined coach for a length of time. Please make your own transport arrangements for the day. We suggest car-pooling (open windows) among friends leaving cars in Mdina and Zejtun respectively.

3. A full refund (€ 10 Credencial + Transport or € 5 Credencial) will be given to those who paid. No one is obliged to participate and if anyone feels that they shouldn’t we understand. Those who still wish to walk it this is not an event in a confined space. It is an event over a 25km spread.

Refunds will be given during the walk. Please approach the Committee for these.

Needless to say, XirCammini, as a voluntary organisation, has incurred costs for procuring signage and printing Credencials. So if anyone wishes to waive the refund we would appreciate it. However, this will be up to individual prerogative. We will offer the full refund to everyone.

4. The Qormi (05:00 a.m.) segment will be cancelled and we all start from Mdina at 09:00 a.m. We regret this change; but this measure would help facilitate car-pooling in the absence of a coach. We will meet on the Cathedral Parvis in Mdina for a 09:00 start.

5. We wish to reiterate the earlier recommendations in line with ECDC, WHO and government directives i.e. Please:

  • Do not join the trek if you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experiencing trouble to breathe;
  • Do not join the trek if you have recently returned from Italy, Spain, France, Germany or Switzerland. You should be in quarantine;
  • Avoid any form of physical contact with others (i.e. shaking hands, hugging, kissing etc.) and try to maintain the 1 metre physical distance;
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
  • Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Check list of persons coming and make personal arrangements for car-pooling. Keep car windows open as much as possible.

In the face of all this it is worth reminding ourselves that we are not circumstances and we can choose not to be defined or constrained by circumstances.

With the right attitude, awareness and self-discipline we can still keep calm and carry on.

Coronavirus emergency: can you trek or perform outdoor activities? (#2)

Massimo Clementi [source www.trekking.it]

This is a useful think-piece by Massimo Clementi (www.trekking.it) coming from a country currently in lock down because of Covid 19. The underlying message remains the same as expressed in our think-piece on the same subject (https://xircammini.org/presidents-pen/covid-19-keep-calm-be-sensible-carry-on/) i.e. to “Keep Calm | Act Sensibly | Exercise Self-Discipline | Carry on”.

This morning the Official Gazette published the new Prime Minister’s Decree which extends the provisions and limitations previously applicable to Lombardy and the other provinces referred to as the “Red Zone” to all of Italy.

We made a general examination of the current provisions for the containment of the spread of Coronavirus. In this article we want to focus on sports activities and, in particular, on non-competitive outdoor activities, such as trekking, Nordic walking and mountain biking.

For these disciplines where there is an area of doubt in ​​the legislation, it is important to achieve clarity and to understand what can be undertaken safely and what must be avoided.

What are the activities that are definitely prohibited

Article 1 – paragraph 3 of the Prime Minister’s Decree, which came into force this morning, expressly prohibits all types of competitive and non-competitive sports activities, in any sports facility. The following is articulated in a way that it leaves no doubts:

Sports events and competitions of all kinds and disciplines are suspended, in public or private places. Professional and non-professional athletes can use gyms / training grounds behind closed doors where it is recognized as being of national interest by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) and by their respective federations

This provision:

1. Prohibits all sporting events, competitions and competitions of all types, both in professional and amateur settings; but

2. Training of professional athletes is allowed only if recognized by CONI or their respective Federations of interest, in view of future sporting competitions, such as the Olympics.

The rule continues by providing further indications for outdoor sports: these activities can be carried out provided that the minimum distance of one metre between the practitioners is respected and without prejudice to the prohibition of gatherings of people. The same article states that:

“… sports and physical activities carried out outdoors are allowed only on condition that it is possible to respect for the interpersonal distance of one metre …

Leaving the house to go walking alone, or with the people with whom we share a house, and immersing yourself in nature or in a street outside the centre is not only allowed but it could be a great way to combat the stress and anxiety of these days.

All those who are fortunate enough to be in mountain or countryside locations will be able to take advantage of these days to take long walks in nature.

Staying indoors may not be pleasant, but it is a necessary measure to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Trekking outdoors can be a valid alternative that allows you to recover physical and mental balance in these days.

Let’s try to make a short list to better understand what you can do without risk:

  • Go walking in nature and, in any case, away from crowded areas.
  • Go walking alone or with the people you share your home with.
  • Avoid crowded places and city centres.
  • Take advantage of green areas that are located near your homes.
  • In any case, respect the distance of one metre.

Massimo Clementi: Web Content Manager of Trekking.it. Social media, writing and content are my daily bread. Mountain lover, trekking and outdoor activities. I take care of the contents of trekking.it every day, I ensure that there is quality reading material that is useful to those who read it. We try to take the best ingredients from the great jungle of the internet to “cook” articles and insights that know how to give value to our readers.

Covid 19: Keep Calm | Be Sensible | Carry on (#1)

As a membership-based association engaged in local and overseas trekking XirCammini (we) are committed to continue hiking; recognising the social, psychological and physical well-being benefits of this pastime.

In the wake of COVID-19 out-break we must practice this and advise our members and guests to undertake this sensibly also bearing in mind that hiking, in our case, involves the meeting, greeting and walking with a group of people.

The key words that we wish to stress are:

Keep Calm | Be Sensible | Be Disciplined | Carry On

What is Covid-19? How is it transmitted?

Covid 19 is a respiratory virus with flu-like symptoms that can cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people. Death caused by this virus is suffered mainly by the elderly or people with impaired health. It has a survival rate of around 96.5%.  Covid 19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

COVID-19 is transmitted in a similar fashion that the common flu is i.e. through respiratory excretion. This means that those in contact with COVID-19 carriers need to cover their mouth, nose and eyes. Since one may have a tendency of touching the face then it is advisable that one also covered the palms of one’s hands for those in close proximity of carriers / patients.

Local Trekking Events

Recommendations when meeting fellow hikers are mostly common-sense hygiene and social etiquette practices. However, for those of us with more of a “Mediterranean” disposition we need to, perhaps, emphasize more the heightened need for more “personal space”.  Within the current climate one also needs to  

  • Avoid physical contact with others (shaking hands, hugging or kissing). Where possible a minimum 1 metre distance is recommended;
  • If you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experencing trouble to breathe do not join a trek. Seek medical attention. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room;
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use hand sanitisers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
  • Cleaning hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

International Trekking Events

Since we have some international trekking events, we have compiled the following additional notes for members.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. This is not a cause for panic, but for approaching the situation calmly and with discipline. WHO, in general, advises against the application of travel restrictions. In circumstances when these are warranted such restrictions “must be based on a careful risk assessment, be proportionate to the public health risk, be short in duration, and be re-considered regularly as the situation evolves.”

However, they do state that, “It is prudent for travellers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.”

The practice of temperature screening at airports is largely ineffective for various reasons. Within this framework, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[1] has designated 3 ‘Alert levels’ as follows:

  1. Watch Level 1: CDC does not recommend cancelling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is low. If you travel, take the following routine precautions:
    1. Avoid contact with sick people: and
    1. Practice the precautions listed earlier under “Local Trekking Events”.
  • Alert Level 2: Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, they should consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices.
  • Warning Level 3: CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19.

Country Risk Assessment and Alert Levels / countries be monitored here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

To date, China, Iran, and to a lesser extent, South Korea and Italy, fall within the Warning Level 3 category where one is advised to avoid non-essential travel.

Japan falls within Alert Level 2 where older persons or people with health impairments should consider avoiding non-essential travel.

Hong Kong falls within Watch Level 1 where the CDC does not advocate travel restrictions but recommends a higher level of precaution and cleanliness regime. The same applies to all other countries not listed above. Common sense, self-discipline and cleanliness should prevail with no restrictions recommended.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR XIRCAMMINI MEMBERS TRAVELLING SHORTLY?

XirCammini members have the following upcoming overseas trekking trips between now and end of the year:

CAMINO DEL NORTE, SPAIN, 21th – 28th MARCH 2020:


Spain is not subject to any specific travel advisory. Therefore, to date, common sense, self-discipline and cleanliness should prevail with no restrictions recommended. We will continue to monitor the situation for changes.

SENTIERO DEGLI DEI, AMALFI –  30th APRIL – 4th MAY 2020:

Since Italy falls within the Warning Level 3 we will be watching this space to see how the situation changes. Currently while there are countrywide health measures in place, travel advisories recommend banning or limiting non-essential travel from / to Lombardy, Veneto, Marche and Emilia Romagna. 

Campania (where Amalfi and Naples are) has been less hit and there are currently no travel bans in place by airlines or foreign governments. The CDC recommends against travelling to Lombardy and Veneto in the North due to the high level of community transmission of virus and the presence of local quarantine procedures.

However, we will continue to monitor the situation and report to our members. One should defer taking a decision by a month as to whether or not to cancel or change travel plans.

If any of the members travelling for the “Sentiero Degli Dei Trek” (30th April – 4th May) have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us information@XirCammini.org .

If travelling, we need to exercise caution by:

  1. Avoiding physical contact in general and avoiding contact with sick people in particular;
  2. Maintaining a minimum 1-metre distance from others where possible;
  3. Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
  4. Cleaning hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
  5. Cleaning hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose;
  6. Carrying supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, and other hygiene products since these may be limited;
  7. Avoid travelling if you are sick;
  8. If you get sick with fever, cough, or have trouble breathing seek medical care and call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room;
  9. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Furthermore, until travel advisories lift the Warning  level 3,it is also recommended that after travelling, one should self-impose 14 days of social distancing / quarantine. One should also continue all other above measures for at least the 14-day period after returning from Italy.

None of the other overseas trekking experiences (detailed below) are subject to travel advisories.

VIA PODIENSIS, FRANCE 18th – 29th JUNE 2020:

France is not subject to any specific travel advisory. Therefore, to date, common sense, self-discipline and cleanliness should prevail with no restrictions recommended. We will continue to monitor the situation for changes.

CELTIC CAMINOS, IRELAND 11th – 18th and 19th – 26th AUG  2020:

Ireland is not subject to any specific travel advisory. Therefore, to date, common sense, self-discipline and cleanliness should prevail with no restrictions recommended. We will continue to monitor the situation for changes.

ENCHANTING SRI LANKA,  26th DEC 2020– 9th JAN 2021:

Sri Lanka is not subject to any specific travel advisory. Therefore, to date, common sense, self-discipline and cleanliness should prevail with no restrictions recommended. We will continue to monitor the situation for changes. Most importantly, in respect of Sri Lanka one should consult a medical practitioner for inoculations in respect of other diseases potentially present in Sri Lanka.

Conclusion: Keep Calm | Be Sensible | Be Disciplined | Carry On

When trekking, locally or overseas, the general recommendations revolve around personal hygiene, keeping or respecting a minimum 1-metre distance from others when in groups where possible. All of the other sensible measures mentioned earlier, such as washing of hands, using and disposing of tissues, using hand sanitisers refraining from touching nose, eyes and mouth and avoiding to travel when sick should also be practiced. Use and disposal of any protective-wear should also be done responsibly. Hygiene in handling, storing, preparing and consuming of food is also very, very important. It is always sensible to observe the five key points to food safety i.e.

  1. Cleanliness (food, surfaces and utensils);
  2. Separation of raw and cooked food;
  3. Thorough cooking;
  4. Maintaining food at safe temperatures; and
  5. Using safe water.

In particular, it is also recommended that one monitors the

  • WHO

(https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200308-sitrep-48-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=16f7ccef_4) and

  • CDC

(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) websites for travel advisories and keeping oneself abreast of the latest information regarding overseas places of interest. 

We will endeavour to keep a close watch of the travel locations mentioned above.

Within this framework, the overlying advice is to be keep calm, be sensible, be disciplined and carry on.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html