Traveling with the Threat of a Pandemic

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This week I took my third trip since the outbreak and onslaught of news regarding Swine Flu; however, this time it was a little different as I was leaving the United States and heading to Costa Rica.

Upon entering Costa Rica not only did we have to fill out the customary forms, but also a health questionnaire regarding our current state of health.  After hearing the symptoms via the seemingly 24/7 news alerts, you can imagine the questions regarding coughing, sneezing, fever, etc. I gave myself a clean bill of health by stating the obvious; I was not with Swine Flu.

I deplaned and walked to customs.  The typical bank line of zigzagging to the customs officials was not unique; however, there was something very uneasy about the custom officials’ uniforms.  The majority whether behind glass or not were wearing surgical masks.

Not only did this look strange, but also it certainly didn’t give me the typical warm welcome of, “Bienvenida a Costa Rica. Pura Vida!”  (Welcome to Costa Rica.  Everything is well!) In fact, I noticed through my time in the airport that many of the other employees including cleaning staff were wearing these masks.  Was I missing something?

As this third trip was one of business, I spent my time at a travel industry exposition, Expotur.travel.While there, I only saw one attendee wearing a mask.  Of course, I tried not to look strangely when I passed, but I did think she was a little silly.  Additionally, when visiting the restrooms at the expo, there were various announcements reminding all that the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to properly wash hands and sneeze/cough properly.  For some reason, I thought we had all learned this as part of our kindergarten classes??? However, it did cross my mind, “What will be next? Should we greet without the customary shake of hands or double kiss to the cheek??” Nah.

To make the trip a true 360 circle, at the San Jose airport awaiting my departure, the masked team didn’t escape me.  Not only was it the customs and cleaning staff, but also today I saw a traveling couple both wearing the masks.

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Am I missing something? Should I be wearing a mask? Should they be wearing masks? Let me your thoughts on these precautions whether needed or silly.

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