Few things are as terrifying to the traveling public as unchecked disease. Whenever there’s a major disease discovered on an airline, such as the bird flu, people stop traveling. Airline stocks are currently suffering due to a new disease originating in China.
News articles have shown victims of the new 2019-nCoV virus being taken away in isolation columns. As of today, hundreds of Chinese citizens have fallen ill, along with an American. 2019-nCoV has been seen in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, and the worry is that it could spread even further through air travel.
It’s suspected that the singular American case occurred due to a visit to Wuhan, potentially at an animal market. But however exposure begins, it can become far more aggressive once it spreads to other countries. The Los Angeles and Atlanta airports, major International hubs, have increased their health measures accordingly.
The Effect of Illness on the Travel Industry
The travel industry always experiences a slow down when illness is involved, especially after the bird flu scare years ago. Those who have optional travel into the effected regions tend to cancel or delay their travel. Airports and airlines need to revise and revisit their procedures and protocols to make sure that not only are their passengers safe, but their employees are safe as well.
However, people often do start to travel again, and much travel is somewhat non-optional by nature. Most dips in air travel valuation are temporary and could even be a good opportunity to get low-priced stock.
The only caveat is that air travel in general suffers during recessions. If the economy starts to suffer a recession, the stock prices could continue to go downwards. At present, all economic signs are positive and the economy has been moving forward despite increased volatility. However, with the impeachment currently occurring, the economic landscape may become a little more rugged.
How Dangerous is the Illness?
So far, the CDC believes that it is not a major concern to the public. But it has currently spread to five countries, and because it can be transmitted from person to person, it’s still a danger. It’s particularly dangerous to those who travel frequently to the impacted areas (and, of course, those who live in the impacted areas).
2019-nCoV is very much like the flu, though many people underestimate the flu and how fatal it can be. A larger concern with unknown diseases is it can be difficult to track epidemiology, and it can spread unexpectedly quickly without a way to contain it. Airport officials are currently acting fast.
Like the flu, this disease is going to hit the young and the elderly the hardest, and is going to be most likely to be fatal to those who are already sick or sickly.
Traveling Safely During Viral Scares
Those who are traveling soon should sanitize their hands frequently and wear masks, especially if they are immuno-compromised or otherwise prone to illness. China is the major vector, so travelers who are concerned may want to delay unnecessary travel to the region, particularly Wuhan, and most specifically animal markets and places of higher than average concentration of people.
Only a handful of cases has been seen outside of China, though the virus has not been tracked for very long. If isolation and containment works, the scare may quickly die out. But because this is a new virus and because they are still investigating, it may still have moved farther than at first believed.
Should you be concerned about this new illness from China? If you’re a frequent traveler, yes. Because this is a human transmitted disease, any contact with large numbers of international travelers could expose you. Luckily, this new illness doesn’t seem to have unprecedented levels of lethality. Those who don’t travel frequently shouldn’t be concerned, though everyone may want to pay attention to their potential symptoms.