The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19

The coronavirus has caused a worldwide pandemic. In this episode, we address FAQs about the virus, how it affects your travel and tips to survive self-isolation.

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19

In this episode, we will address frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and how it affects your travel plans. We speak to a woman in lockdown in Italy and chat with a traveler living a nomadic lifestyle with his family, determined to keep traveling despite being constantly forced to move their plans.

 What’s in the episode

00:26 Guess where Kim and Phil are recording this episode?

01:32 What is COVID-19?

04:39 Replace the handshake

05:10 FAQ’s

07:23 Locked down in Italy

15:53 The Song of Verbena

17:21 Peter and his family caught up in the pandemic in Vietnam

25:33 How misinformation can cause anxiety

33:11 How to keep yourself busy while self-isolating

34:22 Facing self-isolation on return from Japan

Quotes from the episode

Because we've not been exposed to it, we're not entirely sure around how it operates and a lot of the measures that we're taking at the moment are around ensuring that we protect people from this virus.” Dr. Mellissa Naidoo

“It doesn't feel scary in the sense that we're fearing a military coup or something like that. There's no adversarial sense, like us versus the government.” – Elizabeth Heath

We're not so much concerned about our own personal safety. We're more concerned about how this is going to affect our travels and whether or not we're going to be able to get into a country and then be able to leave from that country or to be quarantined and those sorts of things.” – Peter Scott

“I think that most people who are reading the news daily are really feeling fearful and feeling that anxiety.” – Dr. Diana Bossio

“…heading to Tokyo tomorrow, and from what I've heard, there are lots of things closed. A lot of the main tourist attractions will be closed, but it will be good to seek out the not so touristy places in Tokyo.” – Erin Ramsay

Who is in the episode

Elizabeth Heath is a travel writer and editor based in central Italy. Her work appears in Frommers.com, HuffPost, TripSavvy and many other outlets. Her first edition guidebook, The Architecture Lover's Guide to Rome, was published in late 2019. Elizabeth is currently in lockdown in Italy.

In 2019, Peter Scott farewelled the rat race in Canada to live a nomadic life with his wife Monica and two young children. You can follow their adventures on Earth Family Travel. They are traveling with carry-on only and buying one-way tickets as they go. They are currently in Da Nang, Vietnam where they didn’t bank on being caught in the middle of a global health epidemic. You can follow them on Instagram @earthfamilytravel or Facebook Earth Family Travel.

Dr. Diana Bossio Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at Swinburne University and chats with us about the dangers of misinformation during a crisis and the anxiety it can create.

Dr. Mellissa Naidoo, nib Chief Medical Officer and Head of Clinical Innovation, explains what the virus is and how we can avoid contracting it.

Erin Ramsay is an Australian newsreader and journalist facing 14 days in self-isolation at the end of her trip to Japan.

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Yes, we really are recording from our wardrobes

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Resources & links

What is the COVID virus and you can protect yourself.

Is it safe to travel? Michael Howard shares his advice on extra travel safety and health precautions you should take during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus updates.

FAQs

Travel safety alerts.

In self-isolation? You can put your time to good use practicing your travel writing skills.

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: Hi, it's Kim and Phil delivering a special episode on COVID-19, the virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic affecting 157 countries and territories. This is what we can share with you.

Speaker 1: Welcome to the World Nomads podcast, delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Kim: And Phil, we're doing it from our wardrobes [inaudible 00:00:28] allowed to go to the office.

Phil: No, self-isolating.

Kim: Travel really has certainly changed in the past few weeks with countries in lockdown, flights changed or canceled, popular sites closed, and as we just said, self-isolation rules imposed. Even as you're listening to this episode, a lot will be changing or will have changed in the country that you were in or that you plan to visit. It's incredibly quick.

Phil: It's moving so fast. So, look, in this episode, we're going to address some frequently asked questions about the virus and how it may affect your travel, speak to Liz who's in lockdown in Italy, and chat with a dad living a nomadic lifestyle with his family and determined to keep traveling even though they're forced to constantly shift their plans at the moment.

Kim: First, though, a chief medical officer with the NIB Group, Dr. Mellissa Naidoo, is here to remind us what the coronavirus is, the symptoms, who are at risk, and how do you catch or even avoid catching it.

Dr. Mellissa Naidoo: So, coronaviruses are a large group of viruses and they generally cause mild illnesses in humans, such as the common cold. COVID-19 or COVID-19 virus is a new strain of coronavirus that's not been previously identified in humans. Because we've not been exposed to it, we're not entirely sure around how it operates and a lot of the measures that we're taking at the moment around ensuring that we protect people from this virus.

Kim: What are the symptoms, then, before we start talking about how you would catch it or how to protect yourself?

Dr. Mellissa Naidoo: Yeah, so the symptoms are actually quite similar to other respiratory illnesses. So, symptoms can include favor, flu-like symptoms, which are often cough, sore throat, or fatigue in the coronavirus or shortness of breath. I think it's important to remember that most people, usually about 80% of people, will have minor, if any symptoms, but there are a group of people who are more vulnerable and may develop more severe symptoms as well. The focus really for us is in trying to maintain good practices that prevent the spread so that those people who are in a more vulnerable group, for example, the elderly, those with chronic disease, those in settings where there's close contact with other people, maybe at more risk and may experience much more significant symptoms and also complications, including respiratory distress and pneumonia, that we protect them from the spread of the virus.

Phil: All right, well let's talk about protection then. So number one is to wash your hands, right?

Dr. Mellissa Naidoo: Absolutely. So I think there are things that we can all do to ensure that we reduce the spread of the coronavirus to those that we care about, and absolutely washing your hands, so practicing meticulous hygiene, washing your hands regularly and certainly before you eat or after you go to the bathroom or where you're interacting with people. That's with soap and water for a good thorough wash for at least 20 seconds will certainly kill those gems and protect those that you're interacting with. If you don't have access to soap and water, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and that will do a good job as well. You need to make sure that you're covering your coughs and your sneezes with either the elbow or a tissue and then dispose of the tissue properly. Also, be sure to be cleaning and disinfecting surfaces because we are aware that the virus can survive on surfaces.

Phil: Handshaking, like reducing all that sort of contact as well.

Dr. Mellissa Naidoo: I think we should definitely be thinking about reducing the sort of skin to skin contact. So that's handshaking. There are lots of other ways to say hello and I've seen some really good posters and suggestions there about different cultural ways to say hello that doesn't involve handshaking.

Phil: Do you know my favorite one of those somebody shared around? They said we should go back to like Edwardian times, like in the Jane Austin novels, and the first person should bow to the other one and the second person, regardless of gender, should curtsy.

Dr. Melissa Nadu: I'll be looking for that.

Kim: Thank you, Melissa. That is COVID-19 in a nutshell, but Phil, what are some other ways you can greet people without touching? I'm really not convinced about that curtsying.

Phil: Now I've got to do it though.

Kim: You would.

Phil: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, you can salute, touch elbows. You can wave. You could wink too, or do the namaste, which is popular in India and Nepal. If you'd normally kiss somebody, the European kiss on a couple of cheeks simply does a ... blow them a kiss through the air without touching.

Kim:

It is hard because reaching out to shake a hand is such second nature, isn't it?

Phil: It is. Yep. Yep.

Kim: But we've got to do it. All great suggestions. Now, what are some of the frequently asked questions from travelers regarding this virus?

Phil: Yeah, well, at World Nomads, we've got a list of FAQs on travel insurance by country because we've got six different underwriters, so it varies from country to country. How does it affect your travel plans? Again, a list of helpful links in show notes, but here are some things you can do straight up. Look, contact your airline, your cruise line, or your tour operator to check if the services are affected. Very likely at the moment. If you need to change your travel arrangements, contact those people, the airlines and travel providers, and ask them for assistance in the first place. Go to them first because they will have got things set up where they're already helping their customers as well, so see what they're doing. Then you can need to refer to your World Nomad's policy wording for more detail. Go to those FAQ pages before you try calling our contact center because everybody's trying to do it at the moment and then it's really, really long waiting times. We will get to everybody eventually, but sorry, you just have to be patient.

Phil: Look, all policy terms, conditions, limitations, and all those usual exclusions still apply. If you're injured or ill. contact the emergency assistance team as soon as you can look, their details are in your certificate of insurance and they're also on our website. One of the problems we're facing at the moment with a high volume of calls is we're trying to clear that backlog as fast as we can so that genuine emergencies, health emergencies, can get through, so that's another reason why we want you to go to the FAQs.

Phil: In the event of a claim covered by your policy, you must do everything you can to minimize and reduced the cost of your claim, and of course, you've got to provide all the supporting documentation, expenses incurred, receipts, all those sorts of things. If you intend to submit a claim, please complete the claim form. If you need help doing this, then get in the queue, but we will be able to help you with that as well.

Kim: Thank you. As Phil said, all that in show notes. Elizabeth Heath is a travel writer and editor based in central Italy. We're isolating ourselves, but our country, our state we're living-

Phil: Yeah, in a cupboard.

Kim: Yeah, in a cupboard. We are not in complete lockdown, unlike Liz. Where are you in Italy, Liz?

Elizabeth Heath: I'm in central Italy, so I'm in the region of Umbria, which is ... we're about halfway between Florence and Rome and everything's closed. So, even if a tourist could come to Italy right now, there's not a whole lot to do here. Restaurants are closed, bars are closed, all monuments, museums, archeological sites, everything's closed.

Phil: But what about supermarkets? Are they still operating or can you get food?

Elizabeth Heath: Grocery stores and pharmacies, banks, I think tobacco stores. We don't really have liquor stores, but I'm sure if we did they would be open too. Those have remained open. The post office, I don't know if I said that one. So, any essential services, but you have to respect a one-meter distance from anybody else in the same building space. People are lining up outside of these businesses and staying in line a meter distant from one another and then only entering a few people at a time so that within the store or whatever the business, they can also respect that one-meter distance. People are trying. People are ... this is ... the Italian people, the Italian government and medical community, everything has really demonstrated some courage in the face of this, to be quite honest. So, people are trying. There's a certain amount of panic with people rushing to the grocery store to stock up on things, but so far as what we're being told now, the supply chain is not going to be interrupted. So there shouldn't be food shortages, medicine shortages, things like that. So if everybody stays calm, it's stressful, but I think we'll get through it.

Kim: So you can leave your house to go and buy food. That's not an issue.

Elizabeth Heath: If I leave the house to go buy food, I have to have a document with me, a form that I filled out that declares the purpose of my trip. If I get stopped by [foreign language 00:00:09:24], by the local police, they will look at the form, sign it, and then let me go on my way. My husband is going back and forth to his job site. He works in construction and he's still allowed to go to work and he, as of yet, has not been stopped, but if he is stopped, he has his document with him that says, "Hey, I have a justifiable reason."

Elizabeth Heath: It doesn't feel scary in the sense that we're fearing a military coup or something like that. There's no adversarial sense, like us versus the government. I'd say it's not that at all. At all. If there's anything I could convey to people outside of Italy, it's just we're not on some kind of martial lockdown with machine gun police roaming the streets, things like that. It's just not like that. It's just strange. It just feels strange that we have to stay inside or within the perimeter of our own homes pretty much. I apparently can go walk the dogs. Today I did check on that and I will be able to take the dogs out, but I think I have to take one of those papers with me when I go. Well, you know what? I don't mean to sound like in a [foreign language 00:10:40] or a harbinger of bad news or anything, but this is coming, I think for the rest of the world, and I imagine that other countries are going to look to Italy as a test case.

Kim: People working from home, you're still able to work?

Elizabeth Heath: I'm able to work because I work from home anyway, so it's not ... it's probably less disrupted for me than it has for a lot of people. The most disruptive thing for me is that my daughter's home from school and I have to keep her occupied and also trying to be productive during the day. So that's my ... this is not ... As hardships go, it could be a lot worse. Now, they've closed all non-essential offices, so people who, like my husband, as I said, he works at a job site with just a few people in there, out in the open, so he can go to work, but non-essential services have been told to stay home. Work from home isn't really a big part of the culture here yet because there's not that many people, at least in the place where I live, that work in the technology sector, for example, or who have a type of work that is suitable for working from home, but I think a lot of people are going to be discovering that yeah, it actually is possible.

Phil: I don't know if you've heard, but in Australia, there's been some panic buying in our supermarkets and it's pretty hard to buy rice, pasta, and toilet paper, for heaven's sake.

Elizabeth Heath: Yeah. My niece lives in Sydney and she says she can't find toilet paper.

Phil: Right. I know. Apparently, if you want to buy hand sanitizer, you have to go into the chemist and it's kept behind the counter. It's like you're buying methadone or something. So is it that sort of level of craziness around shopping and hoarding in where you are?

Elizabeth Heath: I haven't seen ... the only thing we've not been able to find here is hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes, but that's been a month we haven't been able to find those. I've been making my own hand sanitizer at home.

Phil: Oh, what's the recipe? What are you doing?

Elizabeth Heath: Alcohol, rubbing alcohol, and I have aloe vera gel. I had some on hand for sunburn so ... and vodka would work too. It's a tragic waste of vodka, but it'll work. I mean, we need the vodka for other purposes right now, but ...

Phil: If you're in lockdown for much longer, you're going to need it.

Elizabeth Heath: Yeah. I wrote a blog ... not a blog post, but I wrote a Facebook post about this a couple of days ago. We're not having a run on toilet paper and I think it's because we have bidets.

Phil: I bumped into a guy at the local coffee shop the other morning and he was obviously a tradesman. He was wearing a shirt and he was a plumber and I said, "Mate, this is a great opportunity for you. Are you advertising bidet in a day installations?"

Elizabeth Heath: Those bidets don't look so silly now, huh?

Phil: Yeah, that's right, but okay, so there's no sort of people marching around. It's not you versus the government. You say there's obviously anxiety in the air as well but is there a bit of a, we're all in this together sort of comradery about it?

Elizabeth Heath: Very, very much so. I would say that ... I can't say I have my finger on the pulse of all of Italy, but from what I have seen from the wider social media community, from the groups, the mom groups with my kids' school and everything else, there is very much a sense of yes, we're all in this together. As much as this is disturbing and disrupting, it's also had a very unifying effect on the people of Italy, I would say. There is trust in the government. Our government has been proactive, aggressive, and very, very transparent.

Kim: I feel really sad for the older generation because not only are they at risk, but they probably wouldn't have seen measures like this since World War II. Also, you can't go to mass. So is there anxiety amongst the older generation there?

Elizabeth Heath: I think so and I certainly hope so. I hope people aren't taking it too lightly. We have been repeatedly scolding my mother-in-law to stay inside, to not have people coming in and out of her house, to not be doing the things that she's just used to doing. We're more ... certainly, we could fall ill with coronavirus or we could catch coronavirus and be carriers of it and not know it. Our concerns are for our older relatives because they are so vulnerable, which is part of the reason we've had a relatively high death rate in Italy is that we have such a high population of seniors.

Phil: Yeah, thanks so much for sharing, Liz.

Elizabeth Heath: It was fun to speak to other human beings.

Phil: Ah good. Now you know our numbers if you get lonely just call now.

Elizabeth Heath: Exactly.

Phil: Can I talk? I'm lonely.

Kim: Liz mentioned that sense of comradery that exists in Italy as a result of the lockdown and recently there was haunting footage of people across Italy singing the Song of Verbena, a traditional patriotic folk song from their balconies. That was to keep up morale and obviously because of social distancing.

Phil: I think I have something in my eye, Kim. Sorry.

Kim: Me too.

Phil: Look, at a time of when we recorded this, Spain had locked down it citizens and France was locking down pretty much everything, including the Eiffel Tower, while in Iran they're struggling with the rising death toll and the UK is thinking about imposing self-isolation for anyone over the age of 70.

Kim: When you think about how travel impacts you, we have someone on our team who has her dad's in the UK and he's elderly and she feels that she might not be able to get to him.

Phil: Yeah, yeah, yeah, if something happens, she wouldn't even be able to get there. It's terrible.

Kim: Peter and his wife Monica, they're from Vancouver in Canada. Now, they quit their jobs, sold their home most of their possessions. They started traveling the world in June 2019. Obviously it's very different now, 

Peter: Yeah, look, it began with a cross Canada road trip all summer long, tenting most of the way with their kids who are six and eight. On September, 29 they began the international leg of their journey in Asia and we catch up with them in Vietnam where they are monitoring the situation with the virus right now.

We're cautious. We're not so frightened about our own safety. As the oldest member of the family at 45, I'm still in a very low-risk group. We have two kids, six and eight, and getting as much information as we can, but from everything that I've learned so far, children are at the least risk. Most of the time they might not even show any symptoms, so they're more of a risk to transmit the disease than they are to suffer from it. We're relatively healthy people and we're not health nuts by any stretch. Yeah, we're not so much concerned about our own personal safety. We're more concerned about how this is going to affect our travels and whether or not we're going to be able to get into a country and then be able to leave from that country or to be quarantined and those sorts of things.

We've been in Vietnam since the 15th of February, so just the very beginning of the outbreak. We are in Hanoi, just outside of the suburb of Hanoi for about a month and then we've been traveling South since then, so two weeks and we've been in [inaudible 00:19:03] for about two weeks, almost just under two weeks. So, we've kind of seen the progression of things. At first, Vietnam was one of the first countries with cases, but they cracked down quick and it really is, at this point, is probably one of the safest places in the world to be. I think the latest numbers are 38 cases.

Phil: So, what does that crackdown look like?

Peter: Well, at first in Hanoi, it was like we were in a condo in this place called Eco Park, which is a suburb and it's sort of like a recreation of North American suburbs, lots of green space and quiet streets and condo towers and whatnot. So they started off with announcements three times a day, very loud throughout the whole building and we no idea what they were saying, but our hosts gave us a translation that basically they're talking about people wearing masks all the time. There were signs up that we also couldn't read necessarily and hand sanitizer. Most of the residents were wearing masks and it all happened during Tet of course, so it was already a ghost town just because of Tet, so most of the businesses were closed for a week. That's the lunar year celebration. It's not a thing that should be a draw for anybody, as an aside, because there's not really much way for a tourist to participate. So I think that helped mitigate the spread as well because people were more or less keeping to themselves. So there's hand sanitizer everywhere and they were disinfecting the elevators three times a day and there's a shuttle bus that you get on and they would ask everybody to wear a mask on the shuttle bus and literally every single person on that bus had a mask on, there's hand sanitizer, as you're getting on and off the bus.

Peter: We managed to get some masks but most places sold out rather quickly, but we got some face masks and some hand sanitizer and it was still ... there are still people going to the mall and things like that and there are still people out and about, but then when we came to Ninh Binh it seemed like they weren't concerned about it at all. There were three weeks where there were absolutely no new cases in [inaudible 00:21:24] so we kind of relaxed for a while. We weren't really thinking about it much, but still keeping track of the news.

Peter: Then coming to [inaudible 00:21:35], just about four days ago, a woman flew back from the UK. She's a Vietnamese woman who had been to Italy and had some symptoms but didn't tell anyone and she was in business class. She spread it to a couple of people from the UK there and they've spread it around a bit. So things have ramped up again and pretty much everybody's wearing a face mask, which WHO says is not as important a thing. They don't recommend people wear face masks unless they're [inaudible 00:22:03] or symptomatic, but you see people driving around in a car by themselves wearing a face mask.

Phil: Do you have plans to travel? Obviously somewhere else you've got some plans. Where was going to be next? Have you kept those plans the same?

Peter: At the time being, we have. That was the funny thing is that at the beginning of this when we weren't as concerned about it, we planned our vacation or our travels up until Vietnam and then we started making plans while we were in Hanoi for the rest of the summer because we thought we've got to start booking ahead before it's all filled up, which I don't think it's quite the concern at the moment. Planned everything out almost till the end of October.

Peter: So luckily Airbnb has a good policy where they'll reimburse your money if plans have to be changed or canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Our next destination is Malaysia and we're supposed to be traveling there in two weeks. We actually had our flights in and out of Malaysia canceled and I believe that was due to capacity, so it didn't have enough customers. So we re-booked our flight into Malaysia and at a lower rate and a better time so that was actually a benefit to some degree. We were just kind of holding off on booking our flight out of Malaysia because we might want to move that date up. We also had a booking, an Airbnb booking, cancel on us in [inaudible 00:23:29] and they said that was due to coronavirus concerns. That was quite a while ago when there were very few cases there, but we found another place in [inaudible 00:23:40] at a better rate and really nice place that had discounted rates, so that was I guess somewhat of a benefit to us. So right now we're just monitoring the situation in Malaysia.

Phil: Two things if I can. One is you will love Penang. It's awesome. The other thing is, what I'm wondering is, we're in a situation now where it's about protecting the herd, the herd being all of the global human population. Are you considering at all about what consequences your actions may have? Are you sort of second-guessing yourself on that? Or ...

Peter: Well, maybe we didn't mention this earlier. My wife and I are both registered nurses. I think that we're fairly cautious compared to a lot of people, probably. We have experience with this. We're used to not having to ... like not touching our face, so we kind of switch on this mode. Kids might be more of a concern, but there's two of us, there are two kids. So, and we spend a lot of time as it is just in our place. We do go out and do go eat dinner and stuff, but I do think at this point that as long as we're very, very careful with pain and hygiene primarily and monitoring our kids' symptoms and those sorts of things, that we can mitigate those risks. I don't think that we're putting any other people at risk at this point and if things changed in that regard, then we would change our plans accordingly.

Kim: Thank you, peter. WHO also says [inaudible 00:25:18] is a great resource full of information about the virus in real-time. You also mentioned one earlier.

Phil: John Hopkins University has got a site, yeah, a really amazing sort of live graphic there, which is pretty interesting. Dr. Diana Bossio is a senior lecturer in media and communications at Swinburne University in Australia and she's here to chat about the spread of false claims in response to COVID-19 and the anxiety that that's causing.

Dr. Diana Bossio: Well, I think that most people who are reading the news daily are really feeling fearful and feeling that anxiety. I think in that kind of context where there's this big bad pandemic, people are trying to make sense of it and one of the ways that people make sense of things is to question them, so I think that's a kind of normal reaction. The other thing, unfortunately, that we do see with these kinds of global events is that there is a spread of what we would call misinformation, whether it's accidental, so people trying to do the right thing and share information that they think is important but is later found out to be untrue or there's that more kind of malicious and often politicized spread of misinformation that happens during these kinds of global events. That spread happens for a number of different reasons, but yes, we do see what now being called an infodemic where, yeah, where lots of different contexts for information are being spread and wrapping that up with other people's fears and anxieties. We do see the information that's just not true.

Phil: Everybody becomes a bit of an instant expert on stuff because they're all-consuming it, don't they?

Dr. Diana Bossio: Yeah, I think so, but also, it's understandable in a way because I think that one of the wonderful things about social media, really, is that when something like this is happening, it's a way for us all to come together and actually share our anxieties and fears and our grief because we do lose things in these kinds of situations, but that's a kind of double-edged sword because people sharing anxiety but also sharing information and sharing what their mothers, brothers, sisters, [inaudible 00:27:53], that can have a negative effect as well.

Phil: Can we get straight to a couple of maybe misinformation or myths around it? I bumped into a bloke the other day who said he's gargling with vodka so that he doesn't get it. I said, "But you're wasting good vodka."

Dr. Diana Bossio: Yes, he is. I would say save the vodka for the shutdown because he's going to need it to get through not being able to go out, but on a serious note, I think there are a lot of people sharing things that they say work for them or, on a more kind of negative frame, sharing misinformation because they want to sell you something.

Kim: We had the instance with Miranda Kurt, the model, Victoria Secrets model overnight at the time of recording who was deferring to the-

Phil: You mean the model slashed immunologist?

Kim: Well, she probably truly believes that taking or having a glass of celery juice each day does help you.

Dr. Diana Bossio: I'm a media and communications expert, so you probably ... I'm not the expert on juicing, but I would say that if the World Health Organization didn't put it on the website, it's probably not going to help you.

Kim: Speaking of stars, Hollywood actor Tom Hanks is in quarantine here in Australia and there were some false reports that you're suggesting around him that are doing the rounds?

Dr. Diana Bossio: Yes. Actually, I'm going, to be honest with you, I'm a little bit sad that this one isn't true, but the fabulous people at [inaudible 00:29:33] Advocate, which is a satirical news site, they do wonderful work. They shared an image of Tom Hanks with a ball with a face on it, and you'll know that that's-

Phil: Wilson.

Dr. Diana Bossio: I actually saw that emerge and thought "That's such a ... that's so funny. That's a great way to find some humor in this situation," but then, of course, you start to see it on TV news programs and of course it's not true. It's Photoshop. That kind of fake news, look, it doesn't have that huge an impact because it's kind of funny and you kind of feel like that's something Tom Hanks would do, but as journalists, of course, you have to have a commitment to the truth and whether it's harmless or not, there's an ethical decision that needs to be made in this kind of context. Are we going to share everything or are we going to make decisions about the legitimacy of information so that people ... we're not accidentally alarming people?

Kim: Back to celery juice then and vodka. That's a steroid anti-inflammatory drug. Now that's one I haven't come across yet. Is that being suggested as something that can protect you from the virus?

Dr. Diana Bossio: It has and this is a huge issue because it was actually shared by a politician in France who said that anti-inflammatories would have a negative impact on people who were diagnosed with coronavirus or COVID-19 because it would mask the symptoms and that was fairly quickly suggested to be fake. I think there is some suggestion by health authorities that there may be an issue, but it's certainly not something that you would be sharing if you didn't know, and of course, this individual politician did share it and it was very quickly picked up and of course, here's the problem. Even when you go back and delete on social media or even when you issue a correction, that's just too late. It actually really is hard to clear up a mistake once it's been shared. So that's the problem there.

Kim: Well, in closing then, for everyone listening around the globe, what's your advice on who we should be listening to?

Dr. Diana Bossio: I actually think that we need to think about being really good digital citizens and to really think about our own digital literacies. That actually means not jumping on bandwagons. It means that we just take a moment if there's ... that share button, once you've shared, it's really fast. Things spread really fast, so when you read something, you need to stop and think, "Well, how does this make me feel? Is this making me feel kind of nervous? Who is saying this and what's their reason for saying it?" I know in this day and age it's very fashionable to question our institutions. In the context of COVID-19, I would say that you trust the expertise that's published on the World Health Organization website, on government health websites in your area, and of course, make sure that you're contextualizing that information so you're getting the information that's relevant to you in your location.

Kim: Yes, listen to the experts, but what can you do when you love to travel and the pandemic has you sitting on the couch?

Phil: Well, you can take a virtual tour of over 500 museums and galleries around the world online. Try learning a language online too, and of course, there are plenty of great movies about travel and documentaries to inspire us when this is all over.

Kim: You can search for travel on Facebook. There's a long list of travel groups there that you can join, connecting you to fellow travel lovers, but as we heard with Diana, be a responsible digital citizen. If you have any other ideas or would like to share how your travel has been impacted, email [email protected] Now a friend of mine, Erin Ramsey, who I worked on radio with is in Japan. Now, as we know, restrictions are different based on what country you're in. We are here in Australia and now travel restrictions mean that we cannot travel overseas unless it's absolutely essential, but it also means when you're coming back into the country as an Australian with an Australian passport, you have to isolate yourself for 14 days. Erin took off when none of this was in place.

Erin Ramsay: Hey, it's Erin here. I'm currently spending 10 days in Japan, five in Hakuba and five in Tokyo. Just before I left, I was in contact with my HR managers and my newsroom managers, just talking about what to expect and they basically said to follow the smart travel website. So I took off from Sydney and it said to head over there with caution. As soon as I landed, that was red alert and do not travel unless you absolutely have to. So, already in Japan, jumped on a shuttle, went down to Hakuba and the overall vibe is pretty chill. A lot of Aussies in Hakuba, so that's been all right so far. The snow has been epic, so that's a bit of a positive, but heading to Tokyo tomorrow, and from what I've heard, there are lots of things closed. A lot of the main tourist attractions will be closed, but it will be good to seek out the not so touristy places in Tokyo.

I'm sure there's still going to be plenty to do and plenty of yummy food to enjoy. So that'll be okay, but it's going to be interesting heading home now after that and having to be self-isolated for two weeks. I'd love to work from home as a radio news journal, but I don't know if that's going to be possible, but it's obviously for the best and it's obviously a very safe decision. So yeah, I've just been mentally preparing for two weeks in a room, which is going to be very interesting, but yeah, it's a pretty crazy time. It's pretty interesting to be over here when all of this is happening. Definitely in a once in a lifetime situation, but yeah, definitely going to be interesting to see what happens in the next five days whilst I'm in Tokyo. So yeah.

Phil: There's so much to talk about in relation to this virus, including the difference lockdowns have made to locations that are victims of over-tourism. Kim, did you see the pictures today? The canals in Venice have cleared up. They're like clear water now.

Kim: There's got to be a positive to this, hey?

Phil: Absolutely. Have you noticed a change in your area, the places where you go? We'd love you to share that with us. It's true. We came to get as many stories out there as possible.

Kim: Yeah. You're the people that are on the ground and we'd love to share your stories. Keep well, and while it's not practical for traveling currently, don't quit your day dreams.

Phil: Absolutely not. Okay. Bye.

Kim: Bye.

Speaker 1: The World Nomad's podcast. Explore your boundaries.

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