UPDATE: As of 3PM (EST) on 11 February 2020, the Coronavirus death toll has surpassed 1,000 in mainland China. All the numbers below were up-to-date at the time publish.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about redeeming miles for my trip to Japan and the challenges I’m having. If you are familiar with my on-going battle, thank you for being a consistent reader. If this doesn’t sound vaguely familiar, I’ll fill in a few blanks…
- I booked a roundtrip ticket to Japan On ANA (outbound-April, inbound-August)
- I need to arrange a way home FROM Japan (in April)
- I need to arrange a way TO Japan (in August)
- I also booked a separate flight between London (LHR) and Singapore (SIN) a few days before my return FROM Japan in August.
In other words, this is my current situation…
This may appear crazy but I’ve been doing this for years and I find it exciting.
In short, the biggest piece that I need to determine is how I’m going to travel between Singapore and Japan for my return home.
I’ve spent countless hours attempting to maximize the number of flights and products I can review without going crazy. Here is my current plan (with the bold cities already booked):
London (LHR) – Singapore (SIN) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Sydney (SYD) – Bangkok (BKK) – Taipei (TPE) – Tokyo (HND) – New York (JFK)
I thought I had it all figured out until this morning when I read that multiple countries are expanding travel bans. For example, the Philippines have banned visitors from Taiwan because of coronavirus fears.
Remember this part of my trip is taking place in August so there is the potential that other countries could follow the lead of the Philippines between now and then. Obviously, this complicates things for someone that is attempting to traverse a few countries like me.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL POST
This is not the type of post that I typically publish because it just leads to hysteria and trolls that crawl out of the internet gutter and unleash xenophobia on the masses.
I recognize that my travel reviews are absolutely trivial compared to the first-hand experiences people are having with this virus. Whether I end up going to Japan (or any other country) is of no consequence in the grand scheme of things.
But I thought I would write a post about my own travel with my own thoughts on the matter. In no way is it meant to be taken as advice, but rather my personal (non-health professional) opinion.
IS THAT A FACT?
The biggest challenge with this virus is that we still don’t know anything about it and the internet is chock full of conspiracy theories.
Attempting to locate actual facts is very difficult because the World Health Organization (WHO) has no choice but to release statistics given to them by China.
As I’ve said in many posts before, I’m a numbers guy.
By all means, this is NOT a political statement, but I’m a bit skeptical of a country that claims they only had several hundred deaths from the regular flu last year in a country of 1.4 billion (4x the population of the USA).
For a point of contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates ~34,000 flu deaths last year in the United States with a population of population of ~327 million people.
BUILD A HOSPITAL IN 8 DAYS
I’ve been extremely fascinated with the two separate, 1000-bed hospitals that were being built for coronavirus patients in Wuhan. Construction on the first hospital began on 23 January, finished eight days later, and admitted patients the next day. But I question “who builds two, 1000-bed hospitals if there are only several hundred coronavirus patients? Are they being proactive?”
QUARANTINED CRUISE SHIP
It’s difficult to determine the true numbers because we are dependent on China to release those numbers so let’s take a look at, perhaps, another indicator.
You may have seen information through various media platforms about the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently located in the Yokohama Bay (in Tokyo) – a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus.
Out of 3,200 passengers, 135 (so far) have been confirmed to have the virus or about 4.2%.
4.2% of ~11 million Wuhan residents amounts to ~464,000 people.
Obviously, the tight quarters on a cruise ship will be a bit different from than a city. However, considering the population density in Wuhan, it’s not crazy to assume that the real numbers of infected are a bit higher than the ~40,000 that are being reported in ALL OF CHINA, let alone Wuhan.
Although traveling to all of those different countries does not take place until August, what about my initial flight to Japan in April? That’s only 7 weeks away.
I realize I can’t control all the risks associated with travel or life in general. But I also don’t see much of a reason to travel to a region where I feel nervous the entire time or on a plane for 15 hours with re-circulated air.
At the moment, I don’t know what to do as the situation may be different in a few days or weeks.
I’m curious…what would you do? Would you travel to China? Would you travel to Japan? Would you travel to Japan and continue on to, say, Australia the same day? Is that “safer?” Do you think this virus is seasonal? Do your answers change knowing that people have been infected having never traveled to Asia?