IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Coronavirus COVID-19

Photo By: Erika Uffer

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and information about the virus is still emerging. IAMAT is updating this page and COVID-19 Q&A as new details are confirmed.

Travel and COVID-19:  To reduce the global spread of COVID-19, IAMAT advises against all non-essential travel at this time. See Travel and COVID-19 for more information.


Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause illness in people and animals. In rare cases, coronaviruses that circulate among animals can evolve and infect humans. In turn, these infections can easily spread from person-to-person as was the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

An outbreak of the novel (new) coronavirus was first reported in December 2019 when cases of viral pneumonia with unknown origin were confirmed in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Because of its similarity to SARS-CoV, the virus has been named: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This virus causes the disease referred to as COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019. Similar to other coronaviruses SARS-CoV-2 is suspected to have come from animals, potentially bats.


This virus is primarily transmitted from person-to-person by coming into direct contact with an infected person’s droplets from a cough or sneeze. The virus can also be spread by touching a surface that has come into contact with infected droplets and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

COVID-19 cases have been reported in many countries around the world. For real-time updates, see: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases.

Returning travellers from high risk areas and those living in communities where there is local transmission of COVID-19 are at higher risk. Refer to your local and national health authority for guidance on prevention measures taking place in your community – be sure to comply with local restrictions on travel and gatherings.


The most common symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and dry cough. Some people may experience sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, body aches, or diarrhea. Symptoms typically appear within 2 days to 14 days after exposure.

Those with a weakened immune system, the elderly, and those with a pre-existing condition (specifically high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to be more prone to severe illness. 

Seek medical attention if you experience fever, cough, and have difficulty breathing.


Refer to your local and national public health authority to learn about prevention measures. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

If you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19 or recently returned from travelling, you may be advised by your health authority to self-isolate for 14 days to see if symptoms of COVID-19 develop. Self-isolation involves:

If it is confirmed that you have COVID-19, your healthcare practitioner and health authority will advise you on additional self-isolation measures. People who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are advised to follow the self-isolation measures outlined above and wear a mask to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.  Learn more about self-isolation here.

Travel and COVID-19

IAMAT advises against all non-essential travel at this time. To reduce the global spread of COVID-19, many governments and public health authorities have also advised against non-essential travel and have placed restrictions on international departures and arrivals. If travel is unavoidable, refer to the following infographic:

Travel and COVID-19

Your questions answered

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. IAMAT is constantly working to update its guidance as new details emerge. 

For answers to your questions on travel restrictions, returning travellers, travellers abroad, and social distancing, check out our Q&A:


Information last reviewed: April 06, 2020

The following countries have recently confirmed cases of COVID-19:

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