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Does anyone remember the anxiety produced by media coverage around the H1N1 virus (swine flu) in 2009/10? Don't look this up, but do you remember how many people contracted the virus?
At Adventure Coordinators we have fielded a lot of calls about the novel Corona virus, a.k.a. COVID-19. Many people have questions and all of them have in common they want to hear a reassuring voice telling them it will be OK again to travel. And it is true - once our government lifts the advisory against travel outside of Canada it will be safe to travel again.
In the long term we need to be prepared for this virus staying with us. It happened with H1N1 - swine flu. It is estimated that 11–21% of the then global population (or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people) contracted the disease. That is more in absolute terms than the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. (As a matter of fact, I have talked to several people who jovially told me "Yeah! I had that!")
Does anyone remember how many people died as a result of H1N1? That number is estimated to be 150,000–575,000 fatalities. That's right, perhaps more than half a million people. And the bug is still out there.
Yet we hear nothing about H1N1. It has become part of the new normal.
We expect this to be the case with COVID-19. As terrible as this pandemic is, it will (have to) be something we learn to live with.
This is of course not to say that right now you should not take common precautions to limit transmission. We should all take heed when scientists and governments tell us to practice social distancing or stay at home. What matters at this stage is to flatten the curve, to protect the vulnerable and to delay the peak of the pandemic so that health care systems will not be overwhelmed.
Everyone should follow recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and staying clear from infected people:
- keeping a distance of at least two metres from others
- Perform hand hygiene frequently, cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene;
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose;
- A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask – of any type – protects non-sick persons.
The day will come that we all will be travelling again and enjoying our beautiful planet. Hopefully by then more people will see the wisdom of purchasing a good travel insurance policy. These cover the possibility of the Canadian Government publishing a travel ban to a particular destination. In addition the policy we commonly book for our clients includes a cancel for any reason benefit. It is handy for those who get cold feet. And no one should leave home without a medical insurance policy - depending on benefit plan or credit card coverage is just not smart. (Contact us for a quote)
We encourage people not to give into fear.
Better days are ahead!
And once we get to travel, it will be all the more meaningful.