Should you be traveling to Asia now? The Coronavirus explained and more
Warning: this post contains graphic images.
What is the Coronavirus and how does it spread?
The Coronavirus name is derived from the Latin word corona which means crown or halo which can be seen when the virus is viewed by an electron microscope.
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Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. The most publicized type of the coronavirus is the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS. The most recent Coronavirus that emerged is called 2019-nCoV and there is no definite answer as to where it came from. No one knows exactly how the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV spreads but given historical data on SARS, the virus is most likely spread by respiratory droplets produced when someone infected coughs or sneezes. The infectious droplets can also land on objects and surfaces where someone can then pick them up and touch his/her mouth, nose or eye(s). Various types of Coronaviruses are known to infect animals however 2019-nCoV has no definite origin as of now.
Did the Coronavirus start because of a woman eating “bat soup”?
It is no secret that food safety standards inChinaare notoriously bad and hygiene techniques in markets are sometimes nonexistent. However, this does not open the door for misinformation. Most recently there has been a video circling around of a woman biting into a whole bat as she pulled it out of soup with chopsticks. Social media users and news outlets promoted the video as the cause of the Coronavirus outbreak. This video was filmed four years ago for a food blog and, in fact, was not even filmed in China. It was filmed in Palau, a country in Oceania. Quickly, images of Chinese people eating snakes, mice, and other animals began to surface and the narrative of Chinese people being “unclean and filthy” took the reins of many headlines. The spread of misinformation such as this completely clouds facts and spurs racism and prejudice.
But as it turns out, the market may not have been the cause of the Coronavirus outbreak at all. A new study shows that the early known victims had no contact with the market. And although the virus, at present, does seem to have originated in bats, it’s unclear how it made its way to humans.* Eating bats is not a delicacy in Wuhan and the video has nothing to do with the current situation.
Should you be traveling to Asia despite the Coronavirus?
As of this morning, Delta, American, United are temporarily suspending all China mainland flights as Coronavirus crisis grows. Initially, Both the CDC and the State Department have issued their highest-level travel alerts for China, advising Americans to avoid going to China. But crew members quickly started pressuring airlines and the government to ban flights. Rightfully so. At this point, I don’t think that anyone should travel to China simply because there is not enough information on 2019-nCoV to risk any exposure. In addition to the latter statement, there will be many obstacles returning to your home country (potential quarantine and more).
Likewise, I would avoid traveling to other parts of Asia. The media will continue to stir the pot and release more and more headlines that are likely to make you uneasy during your trip. Seeing everyone around you in masks, having to wear one yourself and facing a potential shortage of supplies would only cause more discomfort. Call the airlines, call the insurance companies and postpone until more accurate information comes out.
Read everything in the news with a grain of salt. Remember that headlines written the way they are in order to bring in clicks. Numbers can and likely are manipulated for better or for worse. Do your own research and remain patient as more trustworthy information surfaces.