Update: There are now 1,873 reported deaths from the Coronavirus as of February 18th, 2020.
Unless you recently took a break from technology, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve heard about the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Though most of the 4,500 cases were reported in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread to multiple countries, leading to over 100 reported deaths, with no sign of the outbreak slowing down. The virus is spreading rapidly, and unfortunately, much is still unknown about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
If you have an upcoming trip planned to China, you may be wondering if it’s still safe to travel there – we’ve got you covered. Here’s what every traveler needs to know about the coronavirus outbreak.
What Exactly is the Coronavirus and How Did the Outbreak Start?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause disease in birds and mammals. Most of the time, the virus causes mild respiratory infections (such as the common cold) but can turn deadly when contracting rarer forms of the virus – SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome).
To be clear, this isn’t the first instance of the coronavirus. The SARS form of the virus was first reported in 2002 in southern China, while the MERS form of the virus was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Shockingly, the government stated that the new outbreak is from a completely new virus (2019-nCoV), which is a combination of SARS and the common cold.
Although there’s no concrete evidence on how the new coronavirus started, it’s thought to have begun from people eating an infected animal while in Wuhan. This theory comes from taking a look at the SARS coronavirus epidemic that occurred in the early 2000s, which killed 774 people. That outbreak started with bats being the original hosts. They would infect other animals via feces or saliva, which would lead to the virus being passed on to humans (through products that come from animals, contact with the animals themselves, or animal shopping markets).
Is It Safe to Travel to China at This Time?
China has locked down more than 15 cities, quarantining more than 50 million people in hopes to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while many nations around the world have begun screening any passengers arriving from China. Further, Russia has stated they’ll close their borders with China completely. With that being said, is it even safe to travel to China at this time?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling Americans to avoid ALL nonessential travel to China at this time, expanding their travel warning from the city of Wuhan to the entire country. If it’s not 100% necessary for you to travel to China at this time, it’s best that you cancel your travel plans.
You should absolutely cancel your travel plans if you’re planning on traveling to the Hubei province. The U.S. Department of State has declared a Level 4 warning (meaning do not travel) on the Hubei province, due to the coronavirus first being identified in this region.
What Can Travelers Do to Protect Themselves and the People Around Them?
Though it’s highly recommended that you avoid nonessential travel to China, there are some things you can do to protect yourself against the outbreak.
If you must travel to China:
- Avoid any contact with anyone who has already been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- Stay away from any animals, including any products that come from animals, and animal shopping markets.
- Ask your doctor if it’s safe to travel to China for your own personal wellbeing – people who are older may be at high risk for contracting the virus.
- One of the most important things you can do? Wash your hands.
If you recently were in China and start to feel ill:
- Avoid any contact with those around you.
- Stay put. Do not (under any circumstances) travel.
- Cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing.
- Call your doctor’s office and let them know about your recent travels to China, including the symptoms you’re having. Some symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Make the Decision That’s Best for Your Health
The things we sometimes deem important become significantly less important when our health comes into play. If you have upcoming travel plans to China, please, make the decision that’s going to be best for your overall well being. Have further questions about the current situation in China? Please feel free to contact us – we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.