Coronavirus has infected more than 170,000 worldwide (as of 16 March AM) – including 1,400 in the UK – and has resulted in over 6,500 deaths.

The disease, which is officially called COVID-19, first presents in a cough, high temperature, and shortness of breath, and has a 15% fatality rate for people aged 80 and over (Chinese Centre for Disease Control, 2020).

It’s spread rapidly over the past few months, infecting people in 157 countries and territories on every continent, bar Antarctica, and has led the World Health Organisation to declare a global emergency.

You may well be scared by this pandemic’s rapid proliferation, wondering if your move abroad is wise or even safe. After all, the last thing you want to do is endanger your loved ones by moving to a disease hotspot.

Areas to avoid

The disease has most seriously affected China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran so far, but the situation is evolving rapidly, so our main advice is to keep up to date with the latest advice from the government and the NHS.

On 13 March, WHO declared Europe the epicentre of the virus, so moving anywhere within the continent is a risk.

But whether or not you feel safe moving to a country right now is personal to you, as long as the place where you’re going is allowing people in at the moment.

For instance, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Israel have all closed their borders.

In terms of medical advice, there are clear guidelines. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised against travelling to many places in the world at the moment.

Check the Foreign Travel Advice section for specific destinations.

“In response to coronavirus measures we are advising against all and all but essential travel to some countries, cities and regions.

“You must check the travel advice to the country you are travelling to.”

– Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Travelling anywhere isn’t a given – for instance, Morocco only has 28 cases of coronavirus at the moment, but flights between the country and the UK will be suspended from the end of 16 March.

a woman in a mask holds up her hand

Should you still move?

This is up to you – but it’s worth emphasising again that the older you are, the more at risk you are of dying after contracting coronavirus.

The fatality rate for those aged 70 to 79 is 8%, and rises to 15% for people over 80.

That means you should carefully consider whether to travel to a more infected area of the world with anyone from these age brackets.

In general though, since the disease is contagious, there’s a risk if you choose to move to any of the affected countries – but bear in mind that the UK has more coronavirus patients than most.

Look, we get it. You’re shaken. You’ve looked forward to this move for months, maybe years, never conceiving of the idea that all your carefully laid plans could be plunged into doubt by a deadly global virus.

It’s easy to get scared of travelling or moving country in this climate. More and more people contract the disease and die from it every day, and you don’t want to get caught up in it.

Many have stopped flying abroad, with airlines facing an £87 billion hit if coronavirus continues to spread, according to the International Air Transport Association.

But if you focus on the facts and follow official advice, chances are you’ll be fine. Don’t listen to neighbours, wild speculation, or celebrities – apart from Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.

“It's not important what famous people say.

“We have to speak about things in the right manner, not people with no knowledge like me, talking about something.

“Why me? I wear a base(ball) cap and have a bad shave. My opinion is really not important.”

– Jürgen Klopp about coronavirus

In the spirit of the quote above and Klopp’s emphasis on expertise, let’s all make sure to rely on specialists.

Next steps

If you’re still thinking of moving abroad, then just ensure you take the following precautions.


1. Check your new country’s coronavirus status and restrictions

2. Make sure you’ll have quick, affordable access to effective healthcare

3. See a doctor if you get a cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath

4. Wash your hands and follow other government health advice