Travelers are wise to take the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak seriously, but there are a handful of facts to consider before canceling any travel plans or ruling out travel entirely.
For one, the World Health Organization (WHO)—the world’s authority on public health—continues to advise against any travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.
Today’s 24/7 news cycle may make it seem like you’re taking a risk simply by leaving your house, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging nonessential travel to only a few countries: China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. The U.S. State Department has also issued Level 4 (do not travel) travel advisories for China and Iran and Level 3 (reconsider travel) advisories for South Korea and Italy for the time being.
Keep in mind that 95 percent of all coronavirus cases are in China, with a majority limited to Wuhan in the Hubei Province where the outbreak originated. Further, of the documented cases, over half have recovered, and of those currently infected, 86 percent are mild cases.
As has been the case since the outbreak began late last year, travelers are still more likely to be impacted by the common flu, which has affected approximately one billion people worldwide compared to fewer than 120,000 cases of coronavirus.
If the thought of flying amid the outbreak has you spooked, remember that the virus isn’t airborne and is only transmitted by droplets that live on surfaces for short periods. The WHO doesn’t consider airplane cabins any more conducive to spreading the coronavirus. Plus, cruise lines and airlines have already put procedures in place to prevent the spread of illness on flights and sailings.
At home or away, travelers can always protect themselves by implementing some common-sense practices such as washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and avoiding contact with their eyes, nose and mouth.
Even if you were to come down with the coronavirus in your travels, you should know that there is only a 2 percent fatality rate and that 2 percent almost always has a pre-existing condition, according to research compiled by award-winning airline consolidator Centrav. For perspective, previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS had mortality rates of 10 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
If knowing all of this and traveling amid the latest outbreak still scares you, consider working with a travel advisor who can save you time, money and stress while keeping you informed and up to date on the latest travel advisories and restrictions.