UPDATED ON 03/15/2020: STOP ALL NONESSENTIAL TRAVEL IMMEDIATELY
There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus has hit the travel industry hard. All US airlines have shut down services to many parts of East Asia and the travel industry is already seeing bookings down by more than they would like to admit. And already hard hit Cathay Pacific has cut flights by 75% from Hong Kong with nearly 120 aircraft just parked at HKG.
The CDC and other health organizations have indicated that this is just the beginning of the spread of the virus. And despite what our president says, a cure is at least 12 months away by most expert projections. As of now here is the map on worldwide prevalence of the virus as it stands (map from the NY Times).
If you want a great way to educate or update yourself about the virus so far, check out John Oliver’s piece from last night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight”:
This all brings up the big question of our times: Should you stop traveling because of the Coronavirus?
Do note: I mean for my advice to be by no means comprehensive. If you are looking for a more in-depth advisory check out this NY Times article.
- If you are a person (especially elderly person) with preexisting heart, respiratory conditions or are undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, you should stop all non-essential travel immediately.
- If your trip is to a place where there are are very few or no reported Coronavirus cases like in many places across South America, South Pacific, and even South Asia (India, Vietnam). You should stop your plans immediately as asymptomatic transmission is becoming an issue.
Now brings up the other question: Will I stop traveling? Update: All my foreseeable travel plans have been cancelled.
Absolutely not! Now is the time to express our solidarity with the global society we live in. I have been to many towns and places across the world where the sole economic activity is tourism. A cancellation here and there may not seem much for us, but for them it could be life changing. Think of tourism as someone’s livelihood and your perspective may very well change.
With that being said, I did have to shut down my plans to visit New Zealand and Finland because my grandfather is still recovering from his chemotherapy (definitely a person who shouldn’t be traveling).
However, I very much intend to stick to my travel plans for the rest of the year which includes travel within the US/Canada and international travel to Switzerland (yes one more time), India (in July/August), and Cambodia (in Dec).
Of course I will keep myself updated with the latest guidelines and will change plans accordingly.
3/15/2020 Update: Stop all travel immediately until incidence of the Coronavirus shrinks significantly. It becomes impossible for our health care providers to trace transmission of the disease if people keep moving.
Unless you really believe that you can isolate yourself from the rest of the world for the next year or two, don’t stress out about something you can’t control. Your likelihood of encountering the Coronavirus is still fairly low at the time this article was written outside certain areas of the world.
With that being said, there is one additional point to be made (credit to reader David for highlighting this): If your trip revolves around public events such as concerts, conferences, or other gatherings, many of which are are being interrupted as of this moment, it’s probably best to reschedule if at all possible. Even museums such as the Louvre are closed right now, which is a must see Paris attraction.
List of Reliable Sources to Keep you Updated on the Virus:
- WHO Health Advisories/Updates
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Updates
- Worldwide Incidence Map by the NY Times
- Common Coronavirus Myths Busted
- Coronavirus Scams to Look out for.