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Old 9th September 2020, 19:31   #1
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Default How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Friends,

Hate to be "that covid" guy. Once again, this post is my humble submission for those who are curious about taking precautions for covid and yet wish to travel. For those who wish to ridicule / dump snark, I have nothing to say.

This is basically my research extending from the excellent job done by the Railways to improve air ventilation in AC trains. I have since spoken with knowledgeable folks who confirm that the same approach can be extended.

I just returned from a weekend stay at Club Mahindra Kumbhalgarh. Here's how I kept myself and my family safe:
a. Choose the right hotel:
- Ideally choose a hotel room with windows that open and independent AC (Club Mahindra ticked this box)
- If there's central AC - go there only if you can open the windows
- If you cannot avoid a central AC stay where windows are locked - go there only if they have upgraded their ventilation and ideally installed UV lights in their AC ducts. Railways moved from 25% to 50% fresh air, higher target temperature (23 vs 27) and twice as many air changes per hour.

b. Eat in the open - else order the food in. Avoid AC restaurants
- At Hotel Highway King, I paid for takeaway but sat outdoor in the mild drizzle to eat my lunch.
- Club Mahindra had a lovely buffet with sanitized cutlery (in a UVC device!) which was handled by their own staff. They were happy to set up a chair table in the balcony. If you're an early bird try landing up when the restaurant opens, take any table next to a big enough window and open it!

c. Disinfect key surfaces in the room upon entry - microwave / switches etc. Even if you don't it is fine - these surfaces are not as high touch as a church pew. We didn't ask them to make up our room for our 2 day stay.

d. Take off your mask only when at a suitable (3-4+ m) distance from anyone else even if outdoors.

If you're truly terribly paranoid and at risk - sanitize your nose while you're at it. YMMV - ideally speak to your doctor

Annexures:
Changes done by The Quorum club (an elite invitation only high society Gurgaon club) for illustration. This is a space I look forward to visiting - if only someone would invite me
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Old 10th September 2020, 07:29   #2
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travel Section. Thanks for sharing!

Quoting a related post from another thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
IMHO, the best option is:

- Your own home, whether a family-house in your hometown or a holiday home

- Renting a bungalow or flat from Airbnb / similar services

I just wouldn't trust hotels right now. The risk is high due to enormous foot traffic, plus sharing of essentials & common areas. On the other hand, having / renting your own home means getting the same level of safety as you are enjoying right now in your main house.
I would also pack my own food from home instead of stopping at a restaurant / dhaba.
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Old 10th September 2020, 10:02   #3
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I would also pack my own food from home instead of stopping at a restaurant / dhaba.
Packing food and coffee in flasks from home is a great way to avoid risks.

But we would still be required to stop at highway dhabas to use the restroom, more so for our co-traveling women. Meanwhile, the viral load is probably heavy in urinals and toilets, as has been discussed by researchers during the pandemic. The virus is probably being carried on aerosols when toilets/urinals are flushed.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/s...ronavirus-cvd/

This simply means that we shouldn't ideally use toilets that are open to the public (such as at food courts, dhabas or restaurants by the highway).

But then again - if traveling with women, doing one's business out amongst the singing birds is not an option for them. Hence, family roadtrips are altogether ruled out at least for me.

I am actually not interested in the validity of this theory; the mere possibility of viral infection from public restrooms makes me want to stay home. I don't intend to pass judgment on others who decide otherwise.
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Old 10th September 2020, 12:09   #4
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
If you're truly terribly paranoid and at risk - sanitize your nose while you're at it. YMMV - ideally speak to your doctor

Annexures:
Changes done by The Quorum club (an elite invitation only high society Gurgaon club) for illustration.
That is some very precise illustration of safety terms. Recently I had also compiled my experiences and precautions in a similar thread here (How to travel with precautions as India opens up).

I did not know about Nasal Antiseptic was only aware of Nasal Filters. Thanks for sharing that.

I agree to almost all the points you have said and also the fact that using public toilets pose the risk of inhaling floating aerosols from flushing or previous person sneezing or coughing openly. So we can minimize risk here by ensuring we wear mask and spray disinfectants like Peesafe on all contact surfaces inside the toilet.

However I still may not be able to risk myself in a Central AC room or a AC Railway Coach for below reasons
1. Even if they install MERV-14 filters and UV in AC ducts the adequacy and ageing degradation and timely replacement would be questionable and I would prefer not to risk myself
2. Social distancing becomes still a problem to maintain as crowds increase
3. Because of air circulation inside, something bad can still come to you more easily even before it goes to the AC ducts and filters.

So remaining confined to individual AC fitted rooms is best best in my opinion. Even lifts / elevators will have similar problems as toilets hence avoid getting there without masks. Also make sure you replace your masks regularly since they lose filtration capability over time

Last edited by haisaikat : 10th September 2020 at 12:12.
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Old 10th September 2020, 20:15   #5
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Friends,

Thanks for thoughtful replies. Do note my core point of view is that I am willing to take ~30-40 min of precaution every day of the trip so that I can finally be out of my house and doing what I do.

I know enough friends in in govt jobs who managed just fine being called to office, why would I now deprive myself of the things that make life worth living (travel/nature).

To each their own - I know the risk is omnipresent but done thoughtfully it is lesser than getting my laptop repaired in Gurgaon where people still lean over your shoulders while not wearing masks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I would also pack my own food from home instead of stopping at a restaurant / dhaba.
Yes chief - that's what many folks do. But what about nature's call?

Cue: Dil to baccha hai ji song - unlike most people, I am always on a mind numbing boring low carb diet

Thus the roadtrip is as much a bhog (EAT) yatra as is it a road yatra

Plus IMHO when no food delivery resulted in COVID, why should I deprive myself of thoughtfully executed yummy meals. See addendum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
But we would still be required to stop at highway dhabas to use the restroom, more so for our co-traveling women. Meanwhile, the viral load is probably heavy in urinals and toilets, as has been discussed by researchers during the pandemic. The virus is probably being carried on aerosols when toilets/urinals are flushed.
Perfect. Let's break this down:
a. You still wear masks in the washroom - so the aerosol concentration doesn't matter per se. Its just 10 min. This risk is problematic in flats where people use the toilet without mask unknowingly inhaling the fumes of their vertical neighbors. Mask solves it!
b. The constant in/out movement ensures that it is ventilated far more than regular AC spaces such as a restaurant. The surface I disinfected myself - I carry my own toilet paper and spray sanitizer for this very purpose.
c. Here you can disperse the aerosol manually even at the risk of appearing like a mega OCD weirdo.
I opened and closed the main door of the bathroom and then of my particular stall twenty times apiece to increase ventilation, before going in.

Did I eliminate the risk? No
Did I minimize it to a level I don't care about it? YES!

Think about it - in a trip of 3 days, I used public toilets twice. That 15-20 min exposure after ventilation is much less than what any govt employee faces today. Its a risk but one I have minimized well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haisaikat View Post
That is some very precise illustration of safety terms. Recently I had also compiled my experiences and precautions in a similar thread here (How to travel with precautions as India opens up).

However I still may not be able to risk myself in a Central AC room or a AC Railway Coach for below reasons

So remaining confined to individual AC fitted rooms is best best in my opinion
Also make sure you replace your masks regularly since they lose filtration capability over time
Saikat da,

You're the next level of paranoia vs mine
Agree on avoiding railways - I am not traveling in one for a couple of years for sure.
Yes - I have a 45 day schedule for replacing my N95/N99 masks and a 7-10 day reminder for surgical masks

You surely did a lot of disinfection. I have reduced mine - I no longer care about the tamasha of disinfecting the outside of the car for instance.

I only sanitize surfaces that are high touch like door handles or where the hand rests but not the chair per se. If something is unlikely to see extended exposure like the church pew, I am not sanitizing it.

As for lifts, I now operate their buttons entirely with my elbows or manage door opening with shoulder or feet. That muscle memory is good for everyone to develop at home first before one vacations!

otherwise, i place far more focus on sanitizing my hands more frequently.

And yes - best to select hotel chains that are known for great operations / service (Club Mahindra for instance). Only they have the diligent staff that would stick with COVID SOPs. your run of the mill economy vacation place would not.

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Last edited by phamilyman : 10th September 2020 at 20:16.
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Old 10th September 2020, 20:52   #6
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Worst place to catch the bug is a public toilet. Avoiding this is virtually impossible when travelling with family and also the reason why any travel is super scary right now.
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Old 10th September 2020, 23:07   #7
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Worst place to catch the bug is a public toilet. Avoiding this is virtually impossible when travelling with family and also the reason why any travel is super scary right now.
ROC,

Please expand a bit - I'm not sure I understood.

The risk is practically zero given:
a. There is very little traffic on the highways these days. Even the best restaurants are half-full atleast on the Delhi Udaipur route (can't say about others).
b. You can sanitize touch surfaces, ventilate the stall / bathroom and use it wearing a mask

Here's another hack - don't go to the #1 restaurant out there. e.g The Amrik Sukhdev dhaba in Murthal on the Delhi Chandigarh highway.

Go to a nice but not the very best one -e.g Kanak Garden in Murthal or Zilmil in Karnal

The infection math is simple:
Risk = Exposure instances X Degree of exposure (mask/surface contact) X Duration X Riskiness of the place

Thus - minimize your loo breaks, ventilate before using them, and avoid crowded loos in active use (think Mumbai T1 arrivals!!)

What did I miss? Please share
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Old 11th September 2020, 08:52   #8
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
ROC,

Please expand a bit - I'm not sure I understood.

The risk is practically zero given:
a. There is very little traffic on the highways these days. Even the best restaurants are half-full atleast on the Delhi Udaipur route (can't say about others).
b. You can sanitize touch surfaces, ventilate the stall / bathroom and use it wearing a mask

Here's another hack - don't go to the #1 restaurant out there. e.g The Amrik Sukhdev dhaba in Murthal on the Delhi Chandigarh highway.

Go to a nice but not the very best one -e.g Kanak Garden in Murthal or Zilmil in Karnal

The infection math is simple:
Risk = Exposure instances X Degree of exposure (mask/surface contact) X Duration X Riskiness of the place

Thus - minimize your loo breaks, ventilate before using them, and avoid crowded loos in active use (think Mumbai T1 arrivals!!)

What did I miss? Please share
Sars-cov2 is thrown out by the infected in large numbers from excreta and urine. In public toilets and urinals where cleanliness is suspect, you might get a huge viral load as someone mentioned just by inhaling the air, standing on top of the urinal. It is still up for debate if sars-cov2 spreads by airborne transmission but most doctors at the front line now believe it does to some degree. You can't disinfect a public urinal or toilet fully for obvious reasons. Poop samples from sewage was used to find an outbreak recently.

https://nationalpost.com/news/world/...ity-of-arizona

The fact that doctors are catching the virus while taking maximum precaution by wearing full PPE and not going very close to patients means these travelling with potentially millions of asymptomatic folks is fraught with danger. My cousin is in the front line in scotland contracted it and suffered immensely for over two weeks.

Unnecessary travel and contact should just be minimized. Hospitals and healthcare is bursting at the seams. You don't want to pile onto it.
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Old 11th September 2020, 09:10   #9
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Hospitals and healthcare is bursting at the seams.
And yet Covid-care centers all over the country are being closed because there aren't enough patients and we have allowed ventilators to be exported. Strange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Unnecessary travel and contact should just be minimized.
Who gets to define what is necessary and unnecessary? Each person for themselves? (Which is what is happening.) Or the government? Or someone else?

Unfortunately, the virus cannot distinguish between someone out on a necessary activity and someone out on unnecessary travel.

Last edited by am1m : 11th September 2020 at 09:15.
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Old 11th September 2020, 10:01   #10
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And yet Covid-care centers all over the country are being closed because there aren't enough patients and we have allowed ventilators to be exported. Strange.
Since you are in bangalore, go and check how many hospitals have beds available - answer : none!

Quote:
Who gets to define what is necessary and unnecessary? Each person for themselves? (Which is what is happening.) Or the government? Or someone else?

Unfortunately, the virus cannot distinguish between someone out on a necessary activity and someone out on unnecessary travel.
Government has given up on everything. It is now fend for yourself. And as you say - it is upto the individual to keep themselves safe. But in any way you take it - a holiday or a joy ride is definitely unnecessary.
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Old 11th September 2020, 10:17   #11
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Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Since you are in bangalore, go and check how many hospitals have beds available - answer : none!
This is the only way I know of checking:
http://apps.bbmpgov.in/covidbedstatus/

But I guess you have access to much more reliable information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
But in any way you take it - a holiday or a joy ride is definitely unnecessary.
That's fine and personally I agree. But let's not make choices for other people, that's all I'm saying. And most pertinent to the topic, scientifically/medically is a 'joyride' any more risky in terms of contracting the virus than driving somewhere to complete an essential task?

Last edited by am1m : 11th September 2020 at 10:29.
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Old 11th September 2020, 10:30   #12
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Originally Posted by am1m View Post
This is the only way I know of checking:
http://apps.bbmpgov.in/covidbedstatus/

But I guess you have access to much more reliable information.

That's fine and personally I agree. But let's not make choices for other people, that's all I'm saying.
That bed status page has been unreliable from day 1 - multiple articles have been published regarding the same. Also if you look a bit into the numbers - the major hospitals where you'd actually want to get admitted are all full. Have a look at the raw numbers. The numbers are padded with a lot of small hospitals where you'd not want to go to. Anyways we are going seriously OT here.
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Old 11th September 2020, 10:40   #13
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That bed status page has been unreliable from day 1
You may be correct, you may not be either. But either way even if there are thousands of beds available, I wouldn't want to get Covid!

The only point I'm trying to make is let us not shame/scare other people if they have made the choice to take up an activity (that is allowed by law of course), like travel (essential or not). They have the right to decide for themselves their exposure and the safety aspect. Each one of us is doing that every day each time we decide to step out of home.

Last edited by am1m : 11th September 2020 at 10:42.
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Old 11th September 2020, 11:34   #14
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Default Re: How to enjoy safe road-trips during Covid-19

All valid precautions taken care of during our waking hours. Travel to a hotel to spend the night. Now, how does one ensure anti-viral protection when one is unconscious for 6-8 hours?

Do we wear a mask to bed? How do we ensure the mask stays in place overnight?

Do we wash our hands with soap and water before going to bed?

How do we sanitize the pillows, mattresses, pillow cases, sheets and blankets/comforters? Do we spray everything down with alcohol? Or do we carry our own pillows etc.?

What if the previous occupant coughed and sneezed all over the room, and vacated the room half an hour before we walk in? Do we carry fumigation equipment to sanitize the hotel room? Or do we blindly trust the hotel to do the right thing?
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Old 11th September 2020, 12:54   #15
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Originally Posted by am1m View Post
You may be correct, you may not be either. But either way even if there are thousands of beds available, I wouldn't want to get Covid!

The only point I'm trying to make is let us not shame/scare other people if they have made the choice to take up an activity (that is allowed by law of course), like travel (essential or not). They have the right to decide for themselves their exposure and the safety aspect. Each one of us is doing that every day each time we decide to step out of home.


Absolutely right!.

I have a 1000% more chance of getting infected at a supermarket where I need to go every other day to buy 'essentials', than on a joy ride.
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