On Wednesday the WHO finally declared the Coronavirus (Covid-19) a pandemic – they were only a few weeks too late in doing this. Some governments around the world have been slow to act in dealing with the spread of the virus, with certain leaders even trying to dismiss it as less serious than the flu until recently (Trump). Many European countries were especially slow on the uptake, with the devastating results of this now currently being felt in Italy. Soon other countries will be facing similar situations.
It’s not just governments who have been irresponsible though, as many travellers have been quarantined or had their flights cancelled despite knowing this was happening… Even now with countries locking down and banning tourists, some people are still planning trips; they see the cheap prices and become blind to everything else. Large numbers of people are still foolishly dismissing the pandemic as overblown hype, though that is quickly changing as the true situation becomes apparent. Clearly people need to take this seriously, while not giving in to mass panic and hysteria.
Why travelling internationally now is a very bad idea
As everyone will be aware countries such as Italy, El Salvador and India have stopped all travellers from entering their countries, and the USA has banned visitors from most European countries. These bans are going to proliferate over the coming days and weeks now that it’s been declared a pandemic, so even if you still wanted to travel you won’t be able to visit most countries. If you do make it to a country that you’re not currently banned from, you may find yourself going straight to quarantine for 2 weeks. Not exactly an exciting trip. When you eventually get back to your home country you may find yourself quarantined or told to self-isolate. I know this is all obvious to many of you, but some people are stubbornly ignorant and need to be told.
If you aren’t quarantined then you’ll find that in some countries they’ll be little to do. Albania has just closed all bars, clubs, restaurants, museums and other venues. Other countries are taking similar measures, and as the endemic worsens this is going to become increasingly normal.
Travelling by plane puts you at much greater risk of contracting Coronavirus. The virus can linger in the air for a least 30 minutes, so you can see how being in a sealed, pressurised cabin for hours isn’t a great idea. You could also have Coronavirus without realising it, and unwittingly spread it to others on a flight.
Some people say they don’t care about getting the virus as they are young and healthy, and in 80% of cases symptoms are mild or non-existent. This is a selfish mindset, as the people they give it to may not be so lucky. The fatality rate is thought to be 1-3%, which is high for such a contagious virus ( at least 10 times higher than the flu). The fatality rate is much higher for elderly people and others with weaker immune systems. We also need to remember that potentially 10-20% of people will require hospitalization. If enough people get it at the same time then health services will be overwhelmed, and the fatality rate will increase. So now is the time to be less selfish, and to think of the consequences your actions could have on others.
We all love travelling, and it’s hard to have our personal freedom to go where we want curtailed drastically for the first time. It’s especially unfortunate for people who already have trips planned and flights booked after months of saving, and now have to cancel. I feel sorry for you.
However, sometimes we have to think about the bigger picture and do what’s right to help society get through a crisis. Peoples lives are a lot more important than cancelling one trip or event. Most of us alive today have never experienced a pandemic on this scale, but there have been many throughout history that have killed millions. Hopefully, by taking precautions and governments working together the damage from this can be minimized as much as possible.
So for the next 1-3 months everyone should refrain from travelling internationally. We should all do our bit to help any vulnerable people in our communities, and if you show any symptoms make sure you self-isolate. Also stay calm, the Coronavirus pandemic is very serious, but panicking helps nobody. Countries like South Korea and Taiwan are showing that effective measures can have a big impact on reducing the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, the government in the UK is taking a different approach so far.
Hopefully in a few months time things will be mostly back to normal, and we can resume exploring this beautiful planet.