Traveling to Hunt in the Coronavirus Era
As of this moment (mid December 2021), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has tightened testing requirements for international travel to the US to one day. What this means for hunters returning to the US is that as of December 6, all air travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States. In other words, a person whose flight to the US is on Sunday would need to have a negative test taken on Saturday.
Rapid diagnostic testing uses antigen detection testing to test for COVID infection by testing for the presence of viral proteins in the saliva. It can be performed outside of clinical or laboratory settings. This makes the test ideal for overseas travelers who don’t have ready access during their trip. It can be performed at a hotel, airport or other designated area. It’s 80% accurate for sensitivity and 97% for specificity, easy to use, and quick.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-Cov-2. Most people with the virus have mild symptoms, however some people can get quite ill. Although most people get better within a few weeks of contracting the virus, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people can experience more than four weeks after having been infected. Older people and those with certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. There are vaccines against COVID-19 that are both safe and effective.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. There droplets and particles can be inhaled by other people, or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. Under certain conditions they can contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are within a six-foot distance from the infected person are most likely to become infected. Touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands that have the virus on them can cause the virus infection.
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by influenza viruses (Flu A or Flu B). COVID is brought on by a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. COVID-19 spreads more easily that the flu virus and can cause more serious illnesses in some people. Because flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms it can be difficult to differentiate between the two without a test.
What’s with the Mask?
According to the CDC guidelines, everyone two years or older who is not vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places. In general, a mask is not required in outdoor areas. People who have a condition or are taking medicines that lower their immune systems may not be fully protected even if they have been fully vaccinated. They should take the same precautions as recommended for un-vaccinated people. This includes a properly-fitted mask.
People are required to wear a mask on all public transportation traveling within, or out of the United States. This goes for transportation hubs like airports or stations also.
The new standards for masks are that they are labeled as: Meets ASTM F3502, Meets workplace performance, or Meets workplace performance plus. These all conform to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health standards.
When people should not wear a mask;
With certain types of facial hair
If hard to breath
If the mask is wet or dirty
With other masks
Air Travel to and from the United States
In general do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated.
You are fully vaccinated two weeks after a dose of single-shot vaccine; two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine; two weeks after you receive two doses of any mix-and-match vaccines administered at least 17 days apart. With the recent emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, a booster shot is highly recommended to provide maximum protection against this variant.
Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements. Different countries may have different entry and exit requirements. Be sure to check any intermediary stops. For instance, if you are traveling from the United States to Botswana and changing airplanes in Johannesburg, South Africa, be sure to check both countries’ requirements.
Before you travel to the United States by air, you will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery before boarding the airplane.
You will have to wear a mask while flying on a public carrier and in the terminal.
Fully vaccinated air travelers are less likely to get or spread the virus. However, there are additional health risks in international travel.
Air travelers are required to provide contact information within 72 hours of their flight’s departure. This includes full name, address in the United States, primary phone number, emergency contact phone number, and current email address.
Travel and tourism account for over 10% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which makes the sector larger than agriculture. In 2019 alone, it created one in four new jobs. The economic contribution of wildlife tourism is equally impressive. It came to $343.6 billion in 2018. Wildlife tourism supported 22 million jobs around the world. In countries like Namibia, nature-based tourism accounts for a large part of the country’s GDP.
Then came COVID-19 and country-wide lockdowns all over the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that up to 75 million jobs are affected and that as much as 2.1 trillion dollars could be lost. In the past, recovery time from a disease outbreak averaged 20 months.
To date (November 2021) a global total of 260,789,592 COVID-19 cases and 5,200,361 related deaths have been reported by 226 countries and territories have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). This this equals a case fatality rate of 2%.
All viruses, including COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’ properties, such as how easily it spreads, the severity of the disease, or the performance of vaccines, medicine, diagnostic tools or other public health measures.
Updates on COVID-19 variants, the geographic distributions of the variants, and summaries of their characteristics change constantly, and are published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Updates on their website (who.int).
A list of current variants of concern is below:
Date of Designation
Alpha - December 18, 2020
Beta - December 18, 2020
Gamma - January 11, 2021
Delta - May 11, 2021
Omicron - November 26, 2021
Among those who develop symptoms, about 80% recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become critically ill and require intensive care. Complications leading to death can include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and organ failure. In rare situations, some recovered people continue to experience fatigue, respiratory and neurological symptoms.
Because of the rapidly-changing virus variants, and continuing developments for COVID-19 treatments, all travelers who are going out of country should be in contact with the CDC or WHO up to their departure.
Vaccines for COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. Here’s what is authorized in the United States.
Pfizer-BioNTech – recommended for age 5+, two doses 21 days apart. Booster available for age 18+ at least six months after finishing the primary two doses
Moderna – recommended for age 18+, two doses 28 days apart. Booster available for age 18+ at least six months after finishing the first two doses.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen – Recommended for age 18+, one dose. Booster at least 60 days after the primary dose.
Any of the three vaccines can be used for the booster dose. The CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another.
The WHO has listed the following vaccines for emergency use:
Bharat Biotech International
Vaccine ingredients vary by manufacturer. None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys. They are also free from manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors.
COVID-19 vaccines cannot make a person sick with COVID-19. None of the authorized vaccines in the US contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. If a person plans on getting a flu shot, they can get it at the same time they are getting a COVD-19 dose.