CORONAVIRUS – A NEW HYSTERIA
Media hysteria about the coronavirus should not lead to mass panic, but, in our opinion, deserves serious condemnation. This popular horror story does not cause anything but resentment: this virus has never been mentioned before, no one was even interested in it … until December 2019. From that moment on, everything has changed: daily television news programs report a virus, almost every newspaper in the world regularly posts about an impending disaster. In our opinion, this is not a well-founded warning, but a bloated topic. That is why it’s high time to knock the bottom out of the corona-hysteria and consider this problem carefully.
First thing to be pointed out is the dis-proportionality with which panic spreads – faster than the virus itself. The mortality rate from the coronavirus is quite comparable with the lethality of annual influenza epidemics. The tourism industry with all its aspects is the first one to suffer. Here the virus is especially destructive – neither large hotel chains, nor private providers can avoid losses. This is a real tragedy for them, because their very existence is being under challenge.
CORONAVIRUS VS INFLUENZA – STATISTICS AND COMPARISONS
To confront the growing panic objectivity is important. Unlike subjectively colored hysteria in the media, statistics are based on reliable calculations, numbers and results, and you will be disappointed in the coronavirus hysteria pretty quickly.
Compared with influenza, the number of people infected with coronavirus does not look so significant. However, with rare exceptions, almost no cases of influenza have been reported. Given the mortality rate from classic flu, the number of deaths from the coronavirus does not seem so catastrophic at all. Influenza is considered a highly contagious infectious disease: around 290,000 people die every year during a seasonal outbreak of influenza. However, the peak values are much higher and reach up to 645,000. So far, about 3,000 people have died from the coronavirus epidemic. The number of infected is about 90,000 people. During influenza outbreaks in Germany alone between 2 and 14 million people fall ill each year. During periods of particularly acute epidemics this number is even greater. A WHO study found that 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population is being infected with influenza viruses every year. Possible sequela includes inflammation of vital organs and acute heart disease. Sometimes influenza can be fatal for patients at risk – people with an already existing disease, the elderly, etc.
Unlike, for example, the infecting agents of colds, the flu viruses are constantly changing their characteristics. Every year virologists face the challenge of producing relevant vaccines. Group A virus is the most common and, unfortunately, considered the most dangerous. Preventive measures against this disease can only help to a certain extent. Vaccinations continue to be the most reliable mean of protection.
Thus, the flu is no less dangerous than the coronavirus. Given the mortality rate from influenza, it is surprising that so little attention is paid by the media. Each year the effectiveness of vaccinations as a prevention measure is emphasized. However, even the 2017/2018 flu season, which was classified as particularly dangerous, did not cause any mass hysteria similar to what is currently happening around the coronavirus. According to the Robert Koch Institute about 25,100 patients died of the influenza two years ago. Over the past 30 years, this disease has not claimed a single life in Germany, although 9 million people have sought medical attention due to flu symptoms – this number remains unexcelled in the recent years.
In addition to the flu, there are other diseases that are “inconspicuous” in the shadow of the coronavirus. Tropical diseases such as malaria appear to be insufficiently relevant to news programs. However, more than 1,200 patients die from malaria every day. Doctors find 200 million people infected with malaria annually. No one else recalls the Ebola outbreak that occurred about five years ago. In 2014 11,000 people in West Africa did not survive the disease. Another 17,000 people were infected. In addition, according to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute, about 510,000 new cases of cancer have been diagnosed this year. But all this information is still overshadowed by news stories about the coronavirus.
SERIOUS SITUATION FOR TOURISM SERVICE PROVIDERS
The hysteria surrounding the coronavirus leaves dire consequences for the tourism industry. Austria is an example: groups of tourists from China cannot enter the country, as a result, hotel rooms are empty, many tourist sites too. There is no public life, entire regions seem deserted not only in China.
Chinese tourists bring about 1 million euros of inbound tourism revenue. Under current conditions a significantly lower rate for the current year is assumed. The reverse side of this situation does not look more promising: flights to China are also canceled, Chinese hotels are empty. Economic experts estimate the losses of airlines of approximately 5 billion euros.
Recently a cruise liner had to moor to the coast of Japan due to infected passengers on board. Since the spread of viruses on ships is fast, many vacationers refuse cruises on their own initiative. Some providers have already announced this year’s season over. Again, the peak of the flu season in winter does not prevent vacationers from enjoying their vacation.
The lack of tourists leads to serious economic losses which affect hotel owners, travel agencies and international airlines most of all. The Chinese economy, in particular, relies heavily on income from foreign visitors. At the same time, the average share of Chinese holidaymakers in Austria is only 2.2 percent per year. At first glance, the country does not seem to be at risk of economic losses due to the coronavirus. But only at first glance. According to official information the purchasing power of Chinese tourists per capita of Vienna is 950 euros. Therefore, they form a highly valuable segment. Vienna will not receive the profit that tourists from China used to bring. 67 percent of the Chinese people travel in high season. If the hysteria around the new cases of coronavirus goes on the economic downturn for Austria can be expected even without the professional esteem.
The consequences of this crisis did not bypass our company either: China and Russia are the most requested destinations for the visas. Chinese consulates has put their operation on hold and hardly giving out the visas for tourist, as apposed to Russia, that has only confirmed 31 case of coronavirus as of March 12th and operating on a usual basis.
On a good note – Tourist visas for China are granted for 10 years and 3 Years for Russia.
many Cruise Lines, Airlines and Travel Agencies are providing the travelers with the travel coupons and credits for the future as well as revise their cancellation policies.
We wish you to be easy-going about the current circumstances. After all, progressive and positive thinking remains the best cure for the global coronavirus hysteria.