You would have to be living underground to not know what Coronavirus is by now. The headlines are everywhere, and the coronavirus effects on the travel industry are rampant. The media is so hyperfocused on Coronavirus that it is instilling fear even where it does not need to be. Fear is what drives people to seek out the media – clicks, print sales, and hours and hours watching news networks means higher recorded traffic which translates to higher ad revenue.
That is not to say that Coronavirus is not a concern, but we all must look to those with the proper credentials for the information necessary to make decisions about travel.
Where To Go For Travel Information Regarding Coronavirus?
Centers For Disease Control (CDC)
The CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Thus, the information is from a U.S. citizen perspective, even though the CDC tracks diseases around the globe. There is a Traveler’s Health section on this website where you can go for information on vaccines and travel warnings at any time, and currently, this section houses information regarding Coronavirus.
There is a listing in the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website of destinations with the risk of community spread. There are travel restrictions not related to Coronavirus as well. Please see the CDC travel notices link for additional details.
United States State Department Travel Advisories
The State Department keeps a list of travel advisory levels for every country in the world. The travel advisories are based on a myriad of reasons, including health concerns. There are also emergency notifications due to special worldwide events such as Coronavirus.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO has an entire section of their website dedicated to International Travel and Health. As of February 29th, the WHO made the following statement:
Basically, the WHO is stating that travel restrictions are only justified at the beginning of an outbreak to slow the spread and allow countries to prepare for cases of the virus. At a certain point, it is impossible to prevent the spread of an easily transmittable virus-like Coronavirus since many patients are nonsymptomatic or only present very mild symptoms. General travel bans are rarely effective in preventing the arrival of a virus but have a negative social and economic impact.
As of 03.03.20, the WHO only recommends that passengers who are already sick, especially those with chronic health issues or who are older, refrain from traveling.
Coronavirus Effects On The Travel Industry
The impact has already been substantial to the travel industry. Many travel-related businesses, especially those that are destination-focused to let’s say China or Italy will suffer terribly and some will fail. As stated by the WHO, the coronavirus effects on the economies of nations are unavoidable when traveling to certain countries is banned.
As fear grips citizens and they cancel travel plans for travel to countries with fewer cases than their own country, logic is often no longer a factor. It is human nature to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding events like this. Even the most level headed people among us will give pause before taking a trip that would have previously been a given.
While those who have already planned trips are faced with choices on whether to proceed with plans, many of those who were in the planning stages have decided on either a wait and see approach or a let’s make sure all deposits are refundable approach.
Anytime that you travel, you should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates on worldwide events that may affect your travels. This is the case more than ever as the world combats the coronavirus.
It is in times like these that the value of using a travel advisor is glaring. Not only can a travel advisor ensure that travel decisions are made to protect your travel investment, but they can be vital in rerouting your trip if you are traveling when an event like the coronavirus becomes an issue.
The Silver Lining
For those with the understanding that there is not much to be done for spreading a virus like this and that we all must keep living our lives whether at home or abroad, the Coronavirus has created some impressive travel discounts. For these travelers, avoiding community outbreaks is still vital, but the rest of the world has become a little more affordable than just a few weeks ago.
Another perk of traveling right now in regions that are being avoided is that the tourist crowds have reduced dramatically. For some, the thought of having Rome to themselves is way too tempting to pass up.
Read More: 5 Unique Vacation Ideas for Travels to Italy
Coronavirus Effects On Travel Insurance
There have been many comments online about Coronavirus not being covered by Travel Insurance policies because it is a pandemic. It actually has not been deemed a pandemic yet. As of this publication, those who purchased travel insurance prior to the World Health Organization deeming it a World Health Emergency, Coronavirus is covered. Basically, this amounts to Coronavirus being covered on all policies purchased prior to January 21, 2020.
To help explain the rationale for this, consider hurricane riders to home insurance policies. This is optional coverage. Homeowners can not decide to buy this coverage after a storm has been named and is on a path towards their home. This is why it is so important to buy travel insurance as soon as any non-refundable payments have been paid on a vacation.
There is still an option for those wanting protection against possible cancellations. Per the insurance company Travel Insured, “Cancel for Any Reason – Some travelers may prefer to cancel their trip out of concern for the Coronavirus. For insured travelers who purchased Cancel for Any Reason coverage, we remind you that cancellations must be made 48 or more hours prior to scheduled departure and payment is limited to 75% of the non-refundable trip cost up to the stated plan maximum limit.” This is the case with many travel insurance companies, but you should call your travel advisor or travel insurance company for information on your specific policy.
Read More: Why You Should Always Buy Travel Insurance
Comparing Coronavirus To The Flu
There are many similarities between Coronavirus and the flu. Symptoms to both diseases include fever, body aches, fatigue, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea. Both viruses can result in pneumonia. The severity of both can be mild to severe with some fatalities possible.
Both can be spread from person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. The biggest difference between the two viruses and the source of concern for many is that Coronavirus may spread through the airborne route. This means that droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the infected person is no longer close. As scary as that sounds, it is essential to keep in mind the overall infection rates in the grand scheme of things.
Per John Hopkins Medicine as of March 2, 2020, Coronavirus has resulted in an estimate of 90,279 cases worldwide with an estimated 3,085 deaths worldwide. In the United States, there have been 100 cases and six deaths. Meanwhile, during the same cold and flu season, the flu is estimated at 1 billion cases worldwide with somewhere between 291,000 and 646,000 deaths. Within the United States, it is predicted that there are somewhere between 9.3 million to 45 million cases of the flu each year with between 12,000 to 61,000 deaths.
Both flu and Coronavirus are the biggest risks to those who are elderly or with chronic conditions that make them susceptible to any virus. No matter what your risk level is, there are some important steps to take to keep yourself well during this time.
The thing that will keep you safest against the threat Coronavirus is practicing proper hygiene. These are practices that are advised at all times to prevent the spread of germs. These practices include, but are not limited to, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for twenty seconds, limiting contact with those who are sick, staying home when sick, and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
As with any issue of this nature, the Coronavirus situation is fluid and can change at any time. It is imperative to always be cautious and heed the advice of world health officials, but keep in mind that their opinions may differ from the headlines you see online and elsewhere. Make sure to properly vet all sources of information to ensure that you are making an informed decision.
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