Update: This post is out of date, click here for a more recently updated coronavirus explainer.

If you haven’t been living under a rock then you know that Coronavirus is a major global health issue right now.

If you’re an active traveler then it’s a situation that you should monitor closely (the US CDC is a good source) as the situation is evolving quickly.

Coronavirus Fast Facts

  • As of February 25th there are more than 80,000 global cases (about 2,100 outside of China) and 2,600 reported deaths (23 deaths outside of China).
  • The virus started in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread globally.
  • It has put governments on high alert and it has led to city shutdowns, major flight cancellations and widespread quarantines of travelers who have visited infected cities.
  • On February 24th, representatives from the World Health Organization told reporters
    • “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
    • The virus’s spread in China has slowed down but the increasingly rapid spread in new countries is “deeply concerning”
      • note: some people outside of the WHO are skeptical about the reliability of the Chinese data

Coronavirus Global Travel Advisories

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued warnings to avoid non-essential travel to China and South Korea due to significant disease outbreaks. It has also issued level 2 warnings to “practice enhanced precautions” if traveling to Italy, Iran, or Japan due to Coronavirus outbreaks.

Basic Tips To Minimize Your Infection Risk

  1. Wash your hands frequently
  2. Stay away from anyone who’s coughing or sneezing
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  4. If you have fever, cough, or trouble breathing – seek medical care immediately

Source: World Health Organization

Should We Be Worried About Coronavirus?

The short answer is yes and no. But mostly that it’s too early to tell and we’ll know a lot more in the coming weeks as countries like Italy, South Korea, and Japan work to contain the virus.

This is an excerpt from Mark Manson’s weekly newsletter:

Here’s the bad news: Coronavirus appears to be one of the most contagious things… like, ever. Apparently, coronavirus is almost three times more contagious than swine flu. For every person who catches it, so far, they transmit it to almost four other people on average!

The flu only kills roughly 0.10 percent of the people it infects, coronavirus kills somewhere around 2-3%. So, just on paper, coronavirus should have us freaking out. Three times more contagious, 20 times more dangerous than your worst flu strains.

Here’s the good news… It’s really hard to know how meaningful these numbers are right now. No offense to my Chinese readers, but the virus has emerged in one of the dirtiest and most densely populated places on earth.

And, in fact, we’re seeing that in highly developed places such as Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, the rates of infection and death are far, far lower than in China—more on par with your typical flu.

The final piece of relatively good news is that, like influenza, the vast majority of deaths related to the virus are people over the age of 65. For young and healthy people, it is almost never fatal.

So what’s going to happen? I have no fucking clue. Nobody does. There is a small chance this thing could be cataclysmic—a global pandemic that hasn’t been seen in 100 years. But if I had to put money on it, I’d say we’re looking at something similar to the H1N1 flu in 2009. It will make its way around the world, but just try to stay healthy and hygienic and things should be fine.