To Travel or Not To Travel?
There are not many moments during the course of a day when you are not reminded of the panicked health scare, Coronavirus. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is related to a larger family of common viruses. If you contract the virus, If you should happen to contract the virus, you can expect symptoms similar to the cold or flu. The people who seem to be more susceptible to the more dire symptoms are elderly people and those persons with compromised immune systems.
Today I’m reading a report of the Australian cruise ship Grand Princess, currently in California waters, which is experiencing a ‘cluster’ of coronavirus cases. This story also reminds me that some good friends of ours from California, have traveled to Australia just this week and are boarding a cruise ship there as I sit here and pen this post. I have to wonder about the arduous decision process that some people must put themselves through when it comes to traveling with the virus threat looming so large.
Around the world, there have been many travel delays, tourist cancellations, event cancellations and the closing of entire borders… all prcautionary and fear based. The Coronavirus is spreading fast and is at the forefront of everyone’s conversations and the news cycles. According to the John Hopkins website that supposedly tracks the virus in real-time, there have been 97,886 confirmed cases of the virus and 3,348 deaths (.0342 fatility rate) around the world. There is not a continent that is not affected, except Antartica.
Compared to the number of influenze cases contracted in the United States annually (32,000,000-45,000,000), the COVID-19 numbers seem small. They are! From what I’ve read, it is estimated that between 18,000-46,000 people die annually from the flu in the United States alone, compared to 3,348 worldwide from the Coronavirus to date. A good point to make here is that we don’t completely change our lives and plans because of the risk of the flu so, why do we allow a new disease to completely take over our lives? Fear.
Fear of the unknown prevents many people from accomplishing many things. While fear can also motivate us, it can be paralyzing. Fear without facts tend to create anxiety, so it’s important to stay informed and practice caution. It just makes more sense than acting all hysterical.
While staying informed with facts and practicing caution, it’s just more practical. Like the Flu, COV-19 spreads through contact, like sneezing or contacting a surface with the virus then touching your face. The two most simple precautions anyone can take are washing our hands thouroughly and frequently, and keeping your personal space. You can visit the CDC’s advice on how to avoid exposure.
If we arm ourselves with the facts, we can then make fully informed decisions on whether or not we should cancel plans based on this illness. My friends on the Australian cruise apparently weighed their options carefully and feel safe enough. Closer to home, we are preparing to travel next month back to Samar. Although the Philippines has not had many reported cases of the COVID-19 virus, this doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. My experience with the Philippines is such that I’m not sure if I can trust their reported numbers, so we will be extra cautious. Traveling to our destination in the Philippines can expose us to more risk due to the typically crowded conditions with people everywhere (planes, buses, ferry boats, on the streets, etc). But we will not let this virus change our plans or derail our visit home. (Unless a total quarantine is put into effect.)
Here is a good chart to help understand the realities of this virus, where as mentioned earlier, the elderly and those with comprimised immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness or fatality.
Given the information in the chart above as accurate, and using the current fatality rate of .0342, the risk of dying for someone in my age group is 3.6%. That would be 3.6% of the current fatality rate 3.42% which equates to a .00123 percent chance that if I contacted the virus, it would kill me. And that would also depend on my overall health and state of my immune system, which is good. So as you can see, this virus has a very low risk overall of seriously affecting younger and healthy people.
The ‘stigma’ around COVID-19 is the worst thing about the disease because it promotes fear over facts. If you have a trip planned soon, you should keep a sharp look at the CDC website, and consider purchasing some good traveler’s insurance. Insurance will allow you to cancel your trip at the last minute if something comes up. Your biggest worry with this disease shouldn’t be disease itself, but the inconveniences and interruptions it may cause with any cancellations on the way to and at your destination. You should also keep informed about current travel advisories issued by the countries you will be originating travel from, traveling to, and those stops in between. You can view the latest Philippines COVID-19 Advisories here.
Stay informed, be careful to stick to the facts, stay smart, and wash your hands! Happy traveling (“Travelling” for you UK types!)
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