The U.S. State Department escalated its global travel advisory to Level 3: Reconsider Travel yesterday (March 11th). There isn’t any data available about this but it’s most likely the first time this has happened since 9/11.
The State Department’s Level 3 warning normally means “Avoid All Non-Essential Travel” but it appears that they used softer language in their warning yesterday.
Why did they issue this warning?
“Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.” –State Department
What else happened today?
- The U.S. banned Non-American travel from Europe
- The World Health Organization labeled this as a global pandemic (the last time they did this was in 2009 for H1N1)
- And the NBA postponed its season indefinitely due to one of its stars testing positive for Coronavirus
Why Is This Being Taken So Seriously?
- From a travel perspective (from my post last week): “I would advise against going to countries that don’t have good healthcare and where you wouldn’t be comfortable getting stuck (as borders continue to close and international travel continues to slow down).”
- From a general perspective: The combination of infection and death rates (chart courtesy of the NYT) + some experts predict that this will infect 40-70% and kill 50M-100M of the global population in the next 12 months.
- If a disease is very deadly then it will kill people before they spread it to others but if a disease is the right combination of contagious and slightly deadly then it has the potential to mass infect and mass kill (the Spanish flu killed ~20-50 million people in 1918)
How Does Coronavirus Compare To SARS, Ebola, Zika, Bird Flu, etc.?
To break all of these down:
1) Coronavirus has infected ~128k people and killed ~4.7k and has reached 115/195 countries (mortality rate of ~2.5-3.6%). It’s also spreading faster than almost all of the below-mentioned diseases (except the normal flu).
2) Swine Flu had a mortality rate of 0.02% so while it infected ~1B people globally, it didn’t have the mortality rate to mass kill.
3) SARS only infected ~8k people
4) Ebola only infected 34k people across 9 countries
5) Zika didn’t spread from human to human and only killed 18 people
6) Bird Flu ~1.5k total infections
7) Normal Flu kills 250-500k people yearly but Coronavirus doesn’t have a shot, is 2-2.5x more contagious and 20-30x more deadly
8) The only disease that has similar contagious and mortality stats is the Spanish Flu and that killed 20-50M people in 1918.
What Are Some Basic Tips To Minimize Your Infection Risk?
- Wash your hands frequently
- Don’t shake people’s hands (elbow bump, wave, nod, or bow)
- Stay away from anyone who’s coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- If you have fever, cough, or trouble breathing – seek medical care immediately
Source: World Health Organization