Health,  Tips

Coronavirus – Cancel you trip and get your money back

On December 31st of 2019 the first reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) appeared in Wuhan, China.
Currently is considered a pandemic and it’s affecting the freedom of movement of people worldwide.
An epidemic is when there is an increase of cases of a disease over the expected. A pandemic is when an epidemic spread to several countries, continents or worldwide.

[Update 16.03.2020]
You can find a study on the evolution and the cost of not acting ASAP here: Coronavirus act today or people will die

How did it start?

It’s not clear how it happened. There are several theories but none of them has been proven.

The first reports indicat that it started in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. This is one of hundreds of wet markets in China. These markets are characterized by selling food as well as living animals. You can buy from a piece of meat, fish or seafood to the whole animal. Reports claimed that in the Huanan market animals like chickens, pigs, sheep, donkeys, foxes, bamboo rats, snakes among others were sold alive. Moreover, some unconfirmed reports claim that illegal wildlife trading was also happening.

Bats are the original hosts of COVID-19. They can pass the disease via their excrement. It’s possible that the excrement of a bad contaminated a fruit that was eaten by a wild animal and therefor got infected.  It’s probable that that animal was sold in the market to finally be eaten by a human who got also infected. Coronaviruses found in wild pangolins are 99% identical to the one in humans. Pangolins are endangered and protected by Chinese laws but they are still roasted and eaten in China.
The theory indicates that the Coronavirus was transmitted from an infected animal to a human.
More information here: Huanan Chinese wet market

There are also conspiracy theories that claim that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The so-called National Biosafety Laboratory is a Level 4 lab where scientists were studying different types of coronaviruses. The lab is fully equipped to handle the virus and less than 16 km from Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. It appears that some Chinese researchers tend to get some extra cash by selling the animals once they have finished testing on them.
More information here: Coronavirus may have leaked from a lab

Recently, China’s conspiracy theory claims that the U.S. Army started the virus during a visit to Wuhan province in October 2019.
More information here: Coronavirus china conspiracy theory

Why is it so dangerous?

It’s commonly broadcasted that Coronavirus is a flu-like virus. If that is the case, why the world is going crazy about it?
Well, it’s believed that the spreading factor is twice the common flue. In the common flu, commonly, an infected person is infecting another person while in COVID-19 the ratio increases to 2. This has made the virus spread quickly all over the world. Also, the incubation period can be from 2 up to 14 days in which an infected host will not show any symptoms but will be spreading the virus.
As if that wouldn’t be enough, it can evolve to a severe pneumonia where elderly people or people with respiratory and chronic problems are at high risk of death.

What is the difference between 2019 novel coronavirus, Coronavirus, COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2?

The first name given to the disease was “2019 novel coronavirus”. Then it was renamed to “Coronavirus Disease 2019” aka “COVID-19”. The virus that Coronavirus holds it’s called “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2” aka “SARS-CoV-2”.
More information here: WHO Coronavirus naming

How can you protect yourself from COVID-19 while traveling?

Do you need to cancel your holidays?

We DO NOT recommend to travel unless it’s essential. Now more than ever we need to use common sense and try to avoid spreading the virus. Also, think about being in a country that now it’s safe and after a few days there it starts the lockdown. You will be confined to your hotel spending money, your holidays time, isolated and with no possibility to enjoy your time.
My cousin was in Wuhan when the virus started and I can ensure you she was not happy to be there. She took the first opportunity to get back home and do the corresponding 2 weeks of quarantine before meeting with friends and family. DO NOT put yourself unnecessary in risk. You will have more opportunities to travel if you remain healthy and alive.

Here we bring you some empiric facts:
The outbreak is spreading fast. On Wednesday 11th of March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the COVID-19 as a pandemic. Most of the countries are taking strict measures to slow down the propagation.
Some of those measures are:

  • China has lockdown complete regions of the country.
  • The USA has suspended the entry of the countries belonging to the Schengen area.
  • Italy and Spain are locked down. In some cities, people are not even allowed to leave their houses.
  • Switzerland has closed all the schools and forbidden gatherings of more than 100 people.
  • Austria has set up strict controls to enter or leave the country.
  • Australia enforces a 14 days quarantine period to everybody entering the country regardless the nationality.
  • The countries not infected or with a low infection rate, like Oman, have suspended all the tourist visas.

You can get updated information about the worldwide ban from Coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend not to travel to infected countries.

Recommendations from the CDC:

  • Countries categorized level 3: Don’t travel unless it’s essential.
  • Countries categorized level 2: Elderly people and people with serious chronic medical conditions must avoid traveling.
  • Countries categorized level 1: There is no recommendation to avoid traveling. However, it’s recommended to take measures to prevent infection.

Recommendations from WHO:

More information here: CDC Coronavirus FAQ and WHO Coronavirus travel advice

If you want to track the number of confirmed, recovered and death cases worldwide or by country, you can find a daily updated dashboard on the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) here: Coronavirus evolution dashboard

How to get your money back after canceling a trip due to Coronavirus?

The first thing you can try is to cancel the plane, accommodation, car rental, etc. as soon as possible.

Some hotels have a free cancelation period until some days before check-in day. If that is not the case, you can try emailing them asking for a refund or asking for the possibility to change the booking to another period. Maybe you decided to move your whole trip from March to August and they can arrange a free change.

While renting cars or booking planes you have the option to select cancelation insurance. If you already did it, your money is guaranteed. On the other hand, if you are planning your holidays and you are not sure if they will happen, we recommend you to pay that extra cash to be sure that even if COVID-19 lasts for some more months you can get back your money.

If you have travel insurance, check carefully the conditions as probably you can get a refund in most of the cancellations.

If you don’t have a cancelation insurance, neither arranged it while booking, you still have some hope. Most of the Visas’s and Mastercards have an integrated cancelation policy that may refund the expenses. You will need to contact your bank and provide them the details of the booking.

Unfortunately, there are not more options that we know to get back your money. We are all suffering the consequences of the virus, you, me, the hotels, shops and the rest of the world. Don’t be an asshole, be fair and don’t cancel your credit cards to avoid being charged what you agreed to pay. The local business is not responsible for the current situation.

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