Travelers around the world have been tracking the news closer than ever this week. The reason? A novel coronavirus that originated in an open food market in Wuhan, China. The virus named 2019-nCoV has symptoms similar to other respiratory infections. As of this writing, it has affected over 8,000 people in China, and cases have been noted in Australia, the US, Canada, and elsewhere. The death toll around the world is just over 200. If you were planning on heading to Asia in the near future, you're probably wondering: Should I cancel my trip?
The Facts About Coronavirus
Let’s put things into perspective. Health experts suggest that you have a lot more to fear from the flu here at home than you do from an outbreak on the other side of the world. La5 year, the CDC estimates there were approximately 45 million cases of influenza, resulting in 19,000 hospitalized and 34,000 dead in the US alone. Still, straight facts don’t always appease the travel anxiety that can set in when the media is overwhelmed by headlines about the outbreak.
The truth is, there has been a lot of speculation and shaky information spread already. Is the Chinese government fudging the numbers of those infected?
Who knows. We won’t try to make a decisive comment on the safety of being in China right now. The purpose of this article is to help you decide whether you should cancel your travel plans to China. The way we see it, it all comes down to peace of mind.
Should I Cancel My Trip To China?
As of this moment, the answer to whether you should cancel your trip to Asia is a personal one. Friends of mine, a pair of seasoned travelers, planned an epic first-class journey to China in May. Starting in Beijing, the trip would have taken them along the Yangtze River and ended in Shanghai.
The closest they would have come to Wuhan is 515 miles, and objectively, their risk would have been extremely low. However, faced with the uncertainty of having their bucket-list adventure come off without a hitch, what did they do? They canceled.
Cancel your plans not out of fear of sickness, but because a global health emergency may cause disruptions to your trip. Already, Canada and the US have issued travel warnings to discourage non-essential travel to China.
While this doesn’t include other countries in Asia like Japan and Thailand, some airlines are rerouting their planes away from Chinese airports. The good news is if you purchased travel insurance you have an iron-clad reason to get your money fully refunded. Even if you didn’t, some airlines are refunding the price of tickets due to the emergency.
If you decide to play it safe, you could always delay your trip, instead of canceling it outright.
The 2004 SARS outbreak, which this one closely resembles, only lasted a total of six months. Health experts are currently debating whether the coronavirus will have the same longevity, with many of them guessing it will die out faster. And if you're determined to travel to China despite this pesky outbreak, follow the usual advice to keep from getting sick.
Wash your hands, stay out of Wuhan, and maybe stop and think before you eat a flying rodent for lunch.