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