With China under lockdown, the coronavirus is certainly at the forefront of the news. With over 44,000 people infected and nearly 1,100 deaths (at the time of this publication), the situation is certainly serious. It is a new strain and its potential for mutation is a huge unknown. However, it is not the first time something like this has happened and certainly will not be the last.
Not to downplay the seriousness of the situation, a degree of perspective must be employed. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated influenza has resulted in 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. Where I live in Canada, there have been four confirmed coronavirus cases and no fatalities. As the situation unfolds, the media is not doing the situation any favours. Governments are encouraging people to remain calm, but the media is stoking the fear. Then there is the Internet, where conspiracy and misinformation run rampant.
Without doubt, the outbreak is having an impact on the travel industry. Recently, a group of divers from the United States were on their way to Truk in Micronesia via Manila and Guam. In Manila, they were denied entry aboard the aircraft, being told they would be forced to enter quarantine in Guam for fourteen days. This was apparently due to the recent arrival of the virus in the Philippines.
Check before you leave
Dive travellers must be aware of the situation not only in their destination but anywhere they may transit through. Before leaving home, check with your travel agency, foreign ministry, state department or embassy of the relevant country or countries. Also be mindful that information and precautionary measures may change on very short notice. While travelling, be diligent. Even at the best of times, aircraft are depositories for germs. Washing your hands and common sense are imperative. One thing is certain: Living in fear is not the answer. T