climbing kilimanjaro during the corona virus pandemic

What is Corona virus?

Corona viruses are a family of viruses that can infect the respiratory tract and cause symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. Corona viruses are common. In fact, almost everyone gets infected with a kind of corona virus at some point. Usually, the symptoms are mild and last for just a few days.

According to Arnaud Fontanet, head of the department of epidemiology at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, the new strain is the seventh known type of corona virus that humans can contract. Fontanet said the current virus strain was 80% genetically identical to SARS, which also causes severe breathing problems.

Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Experts believe the source may have been animals sold at the Wuhan market that passed to the human population.

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill. According to a recent WHO report, the most common symptoms include:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.

The mean incubation period is estimated to be 5.1 days, and 97.5% of patients who have symptoms do so within 11.5 days of infection.

Spread is by contact with infected secretions or by large aerosol droplets, so close contact increases risk of transmission. Corona viruses are more easily spread among hospitalized or institutionalized populations or others in closed conditions. It is believed that COVID-19 is more contagious than the typical flu.

“Most recent estimates put the fatality rate for COVID-19 to be between 0.27% to 1.0%, mostly affecting those with underlying, high risk conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and COPD.”

Those with compromised immune systems should be wary about traveling during the pandemic. However, the prognoses for those will no health conditions and those under 60 years of age appear very good. Up to 50% of all cases may be asymptomatic.

Tanzania Joy Tours is fully operational at this time. We have put reasonable and practical safety measures in place.

As long as our clients feel comfortable to travel here, we are prepared to serve them. We believe that the new standard operating procedures will be effective in minimizing the risk of infections on the mountain and during safari.

For clients who would like to follow social distancing with other climbers, we offer single tents on the mountain and single rooms on safari or in town. Meals can also be eaten in the sleeping tent versus the community mess tent if desired.

Standard operation procedures

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism released National Standard Operating Procedures for management of the COVID-19 threat. The comprehensive 16 page document detailed the rules put in place to continue operations while at the same time protecting visitors.

Some of the items included in the procedures include:

Our staffs on Mount Kilimanjaro are required to take extra precautions when packing, transporting, and preparing food and equipment for climbers. Personal protective equipment will be worn by staff when interacting with guests. The number of staff who interact with guests and the frequency of those interactions will also be limited accordingly.

Our clients should expect the following:

Below are the general operating procedures that we will implement as well as procedures surrounding transfer vehicles, camping equipment, mountain dining, trip briefings and health checks, and hotel stays.

General Operating Procedures

1. Tanzania Joy Tours will ensure that staff and clients are aware of precautionary measures and will be reminded to adhere to best protective and preventative practices.

2. All staff will be trained on required safety measures and the correct use of PPE.

3. All staff will wear masks when they are in vehicles, at the park gate and while they are at camp.

4. Hand sanitizer will be provided to clients in transfer vehicles, mess tents and toilet tents. It is required that all clients also bring their own supply of hand sanitizer to carry with them.

5. Any staff experiencing any respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19 while on duty will be notified to the healthy authorities and their immediate evacuation implemented.

Vehicles

 1. All vehicles used for transfer will be sanitized with recommended disinfectant between each transfer. Hand sanitizer will be available in every vehicle.

2. All staff and clients will be required to wear a mask when travelling in vehicles.

Equipment

1. All camping equipment will be disinfected prior to use.

2. All crew packing up the equipment will follow recommendation for hand washing and sanitizing while handling the equipment.

3. All equipment and facilities used for packing food will be cleaned with a disinfectant that is approved for use with food.

4. Fresh food received from the market will be washed with disinfectant before packing.

5. Clients will always have the same tent to sleep in each night.

6. Only two porters will be responsible for erecting the sleeping tents at each camp. They will sanitize their hands between handling each tent. Tents will be placed 10 feet (3 meters) apart.

7. All clients will be required to pack their equipment bag each morning and leave it outside the tent so that it does not have to be handled by the tent crew before dismantling the tents.

8. All camping equipment (tables, chairs, toilet tents, etc.) will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Dining

1. Only the cook and his assistants will be permitted in the kitchen tent. Only the appointed waiter(s) will serve food in the mess tent. All staff involved in the production and serving of food will be required to wear masks and disposable gloves.

2. We will practice social distancing as far as is practicable in the confines of the mess tent. For larger groups, we may use two mess tents.

Briefings and Health Checks

1. All crew and clients will be screened for temperature at the park gate by the park authority. Anyone exceeding the normal body temperature (37.5) will be required to seek medical advice before being allowed to enter the park.

2. Guides will maintain a distance of at least three feet (one meter) when interacting with guests. All guides will wear face masks when the group is congregated together (i.e. briefings).

3. Under certain medical circumstances, it may be necessary for the staff to come closer to clients than three feet (one meter).

4. All clients will be required to sanitize their hands before and after using the pulse ox meter.

Hotels

1. Staff will be required to use recommended protective equipment when attending to guests and servicing guest areas.

2. Clients will be required to undergo thermal screening when arriving at the hotel.

3. All accommodation areas will be frequently cleaned and disinfected.

4. Dining facilities will limit the number of guests to adhere to safe physical distance requirements. Guests may be allocated a time to visit the dining area in order to avoid congestion at busy periods.

5. There will be no buffet-style meals. All meals will be plated service.