It has been just one week since we last updated you on the current state of the coronavirus and things have already changed drastically. Unfortunately, for the worst. We’ll dive into the numbers in a bit but at this point, you can expect whatever numbers you find in this article to be outdated by the time you read them.
The coronavirus — now known as Covid-19, but the original name has stuck — is proving pretty hard to contain as outbreaks are beginning to occur beyond China and even outside of Asia. Should you be freaked out? Probably not. Calm is always a good place to start with these sort of events. However, it’s not a bad idea to get yourself properly educated on the virus.
If you have upcoming travel plans, now is the time to start getting a handle on where this virus is and how it might affect your travels. Here is everything you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak.
Where Is The Coronavirus Now?
According to a recent tally by Johns Hopkins, currently, over 80,248 people worldwide are infected with the coronavirus with the most significant recent outbreaks occurring in South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Weather.com reports that South Korea added an additional 231 cases to their count since this Monday, bringing the number up well above 800 (as of February 25th, that number is closer to 900 now) and making it the most severe outbreak outside of Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.
According to the Associated Press, Italy has the largest known outbreak of the virus outside of Asia, with 219 confirmed cases and five deaths and Iran’s health ministry recently confirmed 61 cases of infection as well as 12 deaths. Despite the recent spikes in Italy, South Korea, and Iran, the World Health Organization still has not declared the outbreak a pandemic, though they caution the virus does have the potential to tip into that territory.
Currently, the CDC reports that there are 53 cases in the United States and zero deaths. However, there’s some troubling news from the CDC via The New York Times. Officials are saying it’s unclear when and how the virus may spread in the U.S. but that American’s should prepare for “significant disruptions” in daily lives. Dr. Nancy Messonier of the Nationa Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases went so far to tell the paper that “we are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”
Further complicating things, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf went before the Senate to answer questions about the coronavirus and the U.S.’s risks and preparedness and his answers were less than assuring. Not only did the acting secretary not know the models of how the virus could spread but couldn’t answer basic questions about masks, self-protection, or vaccines.
Trump's acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf can't tell the Senate what the models predict for how coronavirus will spread in America. @SenJohnKennedy: "You're the secretary. I think you ought to know that answer." pic.twitter.com/jYGdoszevk
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 25, 2020
Overall, coronavirus infection has killed a total of 2,704 people worldwide, with the vast majority of deaths coming from China. A total of 27, 768 people have recovered from coronavirus infection successfully.
How Is The World Being Affected?
As coronavirus infection spreads, airlines are beginning to implement more stringent travel restrictions, and with the spread expected to get worse, the stock market is beginning to take a significant hit. CNBC reports that on Monday Japanese stocks plummeted by 4 percent. Australian shares dropped by two percent. The U.S. Dow Jones plunged 1,031.61 points. Nasdaq dropped by 3.71 percent. The S&P had its worst day in two years, completely wiping out its year-to-date gain.
China had to postpone an annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, one of the country’s most important political events of the year, and Reuters reports that talk of rescheduling or canceling the Tokyo Summer Olympics is beginning to bubble up. Though CNBC reports that Japanese Health minister Katsunobu Kato pushed back on the idea of cancellation. However, if the spread of the infection doesn’t subside by spring, it’s very likely that the games will be canceled, which would make this the first time since World War II that we haven’t had a Summer Olympics. Though, there is chatter of the games moving to London at the last minute.
Any word on a cure?
Yes actually! The Wall Street Journal reports that Drugmaker Moderna Inc. has not only developed a coronavirus vaccine, but they’ve already sent the first batch of it to U.S. Government researchers who are set to implement the first human tests. Vials of the vaccine were sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland where a clinical trial of 20 to 25 people will begin by the end of April to see whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective at suppressing the spread.
So a cure may be in the cards, but you shouldn’t expect it soon.
What Should I know If I’m Traveling?
Several airlines are suspending travel to mainland China or taking additional safety precautions to curb the spread of the virus. Reuters reports that British Airways has canceled all flights to China through the end of February. Air Canada has suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai, and United, American, and Delta airlines have all suspended service to the country completely.
The CDC has issued a travel warning of level 3 for China and South Korea. What does that mean? It indicates that travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to the countries. Iran, Italy, and Japan have been bumped up to alert level 2. That basically means that if you have travels planned for those countries, it’s not a bad idea to considering postponing. Hong Kong’s travel warning was bumped up from a 0 to a 1 which still indicates that travel is safe but travelers should practice caution.
CNN also reports that Turkey, Pakistan, and Iraq have all closed their borders with Iran, and Kuwait Airlines, Iraq Airlines, and Turkey have suspended flights to the country.
If you have an upcoming trip, it’s not a bad idea to call your airlines and check in on the status of your upcoming flight. Currently, airlines are relaxing policies, and some hotel chains are waiving cancellation fees. But, those with travel insurance should keep in mind that generally an outbreak of a virus is not covered under most standard trip cancellation insurance policies. If you have travel insurance and have trips planned to the aforementioned countries, it’s not a bad idea to give your provider a call.
The virus isn’t just affecting air travel. Several municipalities in Italy have been completely sealed off, and The Wall Street Journal reports that Italian authorities have shut down schools, public and private gatherings, soccer matches, and any other cultural events designed to bring people together as the country struggles to contain the outbreak. The cruise ship industry has also canceled all cruises to and from mainland China and begun implementing policies and screening procedures to stop the spread of potential cases elsewhere.
The best way to protect yourself is still to wash your hands and practice caution around those who exhibit the flu-like symptoms of coronavirus.
The Global death toll of coronavirus is now over 2,700, and Brazil has just confirmed its first case, making it the first instance of coronavirus in Latin America. According to CBS, 20 cases are now under investigation in the country.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Advisory urging Americans to use caution if visiting Italy, but has still refrained from recommending you avoid travel to the country completely. According to CBS, Spain has the situation in the Canary Islands now under control, with four confirmed cases amongst those quarantined in the Tenerife hotel, and five cases confirmed in mainland Spain which director of the Center of Coordination of Health Emergencies at Spain’s Health Ministry, Fernando Simon assures are all “controlled situations.”
Things are looking more optimistic in the stock market where the Dow rose by 278, and Nasdaq and S&P both rose above 1%. This comes after President Donald Trump suggested that fears of the disease were overblown, tweeting “USA in great shape.”
Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020
The World Health Organization still has not declared the wider outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic though. According to CBS, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the hysteria on Wednesday according to CBS saying, “we should not be too eager to declare a pandemic … We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things.” Then Ghebreyesys cautioned, “all countries, whether they have cases or not, must prepare for a potential pandemic.”