I'm dealing with a lot of client calls and emails about the Coronavirus this week.
I'm actually surprised these communications have not come earlier, but I knew eventually I would be fielding these type of inquiries about international travel.
So while I'm not going to downplay the Coronavirus, I do feel what is going on in the news is making things much more incitement to concern & panic. First off the Coronavirus is a respiratory virus similar to the flu. It's symptoms are similar as well. While the world has a vaccine for the flu, we don't yet for Coronavirus, and that therein lies the difference. Even with a vaccine the flu kills nearly 1,000 people a day (CDC estimate of 0.1%). In a little over 1 month Coronavirus has killed 2,711, as of this post. Once a vaccine is available, likely Coronavirus estimates will be similar to the flu in precentage.
The flu is more life threatening to the sickly or elderly who have low immune systems and cannot fight off the infection. This is the case mostly with Coronavirus, those who are at the most risk are the sickly & elderly.
I'm treating each of my client inquiries with the utmost understanding and consideration. With that said a real look at the numbers and not the panic driven news reports helps put things in perspective.
Out of the 80,420 cases worldwide, 30,620 are closed now. Currently there are 49,800 active cases.
Of those 40,859 are classified as mild, or nearly 82% of all cases worldwide are mild. Leaving about 18% as serious cases. Currently Coronavirus mortality rate is around 2%, meaning around 16% or about 9,025 serious cases will have a miserable two weeks of bad viral infection, but will likely recover.
The flu has killed 898 people today (CDC estimates)
Think of that the flu kills just as many people in 4 days as Coronavirus has in about a month.
Now of course this is because of the quarantines & preventive measures that are being undertaken in the world to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Which finally seem to be having some success if we look at the daily figures.
Between Jan 22nd & Feb 12th, worldwide cases of Coronavirus went from 580 to 59,287, a growth rate of over 10,000% in it's first 19 days of reporting cases. If you were to break that down daily on average it comes out to a case growth rate of 526%, however since Feb 13th, those daily figures have decreased dramatically.
Take a look below: Overall Cases
Feb 13th @ 64,428
Feb 14th @ 67,100
Feb 15th @ 69,197
Feb 16th @ 71,329
Feb 17th @ 73,332
Feb 18th @ 75,187
Feb 19th @ 75,700
Feb 20th @ 76,667
Feb 21st @ 77,673
Feb 22nd @ 78,651
Feb 23rd @ 79,205
Feb 24th @ 80,088
Within the last 11-12 days the growth rate reported worldwide is now only 33.6%, or a daily new case rate of around 2.8%. If you were to put these figures into a logarithmic chart, you'd see a severe climb up to the 12th, followed by an ever so slight climb daily from 13th on. Things hopefully seem to be leveling off. So I applaud authorities worldwide for the quarantine measures they have taken to try and get this under control.
Not to mention that 96.5% of all cases open & closed worldwide as of today are in Hubei province of China. Leaving the rest of the world with only 3.5% of all cases, and probably around half of those are closed cases.
A big concern of my clients is Italy. With it's sudden growth of cases since Friday climbing to 323.
Italy's population? 60.48 million. It would take 60,480 cases in Italy to account for 0.1% of it's population. (I think that many people fit inside one football stadium in Rome), which has a population of 2.87 million. As long as Italy gets this thing under control, which it looks like they are hopefully, then I do not think Italy should be a big concern at this time.
To put that is perspective, there are 8.6 million people in New York City.
If there were 323 cases in the Big Apple, would that change your mind about going there for a visit?
Can this all change?, certainly. We could wake up tomorrow with a sudden surge of cases in Rio, who knows. It is a must that the quarantines & self quarantines hold for a few weeks, and those areas/regions that have the virus and the citizens that are cases are given time to be treated & recover.
To wrap up, I care about my clientele and their concern & worry. Some of it is safety, some of it is financial, when it comes to international trips and travel. I fully get that, and while I can only inform them of what I know. Their decisions of course are their own to go or not go.
From what I know most insurance policies are not going to protect trip costs if clients just decide not to go. Unless they have already purchase a cancellation for any reason policy or premium, those usually protect around 75% of trip cost, and must be taken out within just weeks of deposit. Unfortunately no insurance company is going to cover client choice. Clients are at the policies of the vendors, cruise lines, suppliers, hotels and their cancellation and change terms. Short of the US Dept of State making a warning or country fully prohibited from travel, is not going to change much in the way of a vendors choice to operate or not.
In fact even China at this time is not on the US Dept. of State's prohibited list of countries for travel.
Sure it's on their advisable 'Do Not Travel' list, but that is not the prohibited list. Globus a worldwide escorted tour company just yesterday decided to cancel all tours/cruises involving China though sometime in April for now. So please understand that just because there are 17 cases of Coronavirus in Germany right now does not mean your Danube River cruise in July should be cancelled and they give you a full refund. I wish it were different. I wish I could pick up the phone and say yes, I'll cancel and get your full refund from the supplier.
Luxury Travel Advisor
Avenue Two Travel, Pittsburgh Branch
Note: All of my current figures come from charts and estimates by the CDC & WHO.