Let's get the obvious out of the way: in under no circumstances should we take the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak concerns lightly. As of March 2020, there have been around 93,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection worldwide, with 3,203 cases ending in fatalities and 50,962 successful recoveries.
Among the frenzy reporting of cases popping up in new countries, 122 countries have not reported any cases, according to WHO.
However you may feel about the coronavirus scare, take comfort in the fact that the numbers don't lie. Moreover, there are simple and sensible precautions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from actually contracting the virus, even when you're travelling.
So it begs the question; amidst the global coronavirus outbreak, is it really a good idea to travel? While the coronavirus scare is to an extent, quite serious, our answer is a resounding yes!
IT'S BOUND TO BE CHEAP
As airlines continue to see cancellations after cancellations, the only viable way to keep the cashflow going is by offering significant price cuts to would-be passengers.
Expect some exceptionally good offers from your airline of choice since they know that only a really attractive offer would be able to entice you and other potential passengers to fill up those empty seats.
Some hotels have seen their rates slashed to below 30 per cent in a last-ditch effort to keep their business afloat. What this means for you is that you would now be able to reserve your stay at hotels for just a fraction of the price at a time where accommodations are otherwise fully-booked.
Even governments like the Indonesian government saw the need to introduce an initiative to further buff their tourism industry against the coronavirus scare.
Both domestic and international travellers are eligible for a 50 per cent airfare cut and cheaper hotel rates at the country's 10 major tourist destinations.
In short, assuming that your travel plans don't include countries designated as coronavirus hotspots (you may not even be permitted to go there in the first place), there's really no reason for you to miss out on these great deals.
THE CROWDS WILL THIN
Just as an example, the massive influx of Chinese tourists to the Japanese city of Kyoto in recent years has boosted the city's tourism almost to the point of overtourism.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government has imposed travel restrictions on outbound overseas groups, rendering Kyoto's tourism scene all but empty.
Imagine having the ancient city of Kyoto's popular tourist spots all to yourself! Picture yourself and your companions strolling through the serene bamboo grove in Arashiyama without having to mind the oftentimes bumptious crowd.
Think of all the awesome Instagram moments this rare occasion would entail.
As is the case with airlines and hotels, the shop owners of Kyoto's shopping streets and essentially everyone involved in Kyoto's tourism scene has vowed to extend extra courtesy to visitors in a bid to revive the town's economy.
This situation isn't exclusive to Kyoto or Japan either, places like Hawaii and the Caribbeans are also suffering from significant decline despite them not being designated as outbreak hotspots.
Again, having your destination of choice devoid of large crowds means a better vacationing experience for you.
With these popular tourist destinations becoming a lot less touristy and a lot more tranquil, we honestly can't think of a better reason to go ahead and set your travel plans in motion.
PLAN YOUR TRIP REALISTICALLY AND RESPONSIBLY
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends those who are sick to postpone their travels until their health improves. Travellers must also be aware of the latest travel bans and restrictions and obviously avoid travelling to those affected areas.
To keep you and your travel companions safe, the WHO has outlined a series of recommendations extending to personal hygiene as follows:
- Hand hygiene must be performed frequently. Clean your hands using water, soap or alcohol-based hand rub
- When sneezing and coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or tissue and discarding it immediately after use
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth
- There is no evidence that a surgical mask provides protection against infection, but it does prevent an infected person from infecting others
The mortality rate is currently estimated at 3.4 per cent, depending on several factors, namely age, general health and the available health facilities.
To put things into perspective, the coronavirus does indeed seem to have a lower mortality rate compared to other viral outbreaks, such as SARS, MERS and the Ebola virus, with mortality rates of 9.6 per cent, 34 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.
That is to say, if you're in the pink of health and you strictly follow the health guidelines, travelling is still an option for you.
FACTS, NOT FEAR!
We are definitely behind the WHO's stance against shutting down international aviation network due to the outbreak. It is of the utmost importance for all of us to recognise the actual scientific facts regarding the outbreak rather than simply reacting out of fear.
In many cases, the spreading of misinformation has proven more destructive than the spreading of the virus itself.
Although you may understandably have mixed feelings about travelling amidst the coronavirus scare, that doesn't change the fact that as long as you adhere to the simple necessary precautions provided by the WHO as well as their common sense, the chances of actually contracting the virus are pretty slim.
This article was first published in Wego.