Should I Cancel My Trip to Europe Because of the Coronavirus?
I have a very tough decision to make over the next couple of weeks. I've been planning a trip with my mother and daughter to Paris and Ireland this month. Needless to say, like the rest of the world, I've been closely following the spread of the coronavirus and how that might affect my travels.
As I've watched, Italy has become a hot zone and the Louvre in Paris has decided to close as a precaution. Seeing nearly 15,000 visitors a day, officials have temporarily closed the home of the Mona Lisa in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
I'm usually the type of person who doesn't really overreact to things like the coronavirus, but I also don't want to be stupid about it. Other than washing your hands, I feel like the best thing you can do is to keep yourself informed.
I've looked on the Center for Disease Control website. They classify travel warnings into three different levels. A Level 3 travel warning strongly discourages travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
The Level 2 warning urges people to use enhanced precautions when traveling to Japan.
There's a Level 3 travel warning for Hong Kong which urges travelers to practice "usual" precautions.
These are the only leveled travel warnings from the CDC that are in place right now around the world. Other than that, the CDC doesn't view being in Paris or Ireland as any more of a risk than being in New Bedford, Massachusetts. There's a website that supposedly tracks the number of people who have contracted the coronavirus and where they are. The site says that all of France has only seen a total of 191 people with the virus. Ireland? Only one. If I can avoid that one guy in Ireland, I'll be in good shape.
I'm not as concerned about actually spending time in these places as I am about getting there. Airports and airplanes are crawling with people from every corner of the globe. Any of them may be infected with the virus. The CDC, however, believes the risk of getting the infection on a plane is low, saying "because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on airplanes."
For me, it's a question of the real risk. It seems to me that contracting the virus is still a pretty rare occurrence in places like France and Ireland. Even if we are unlucky enough to get infected, it is very, very likely that we'll fully recover. Is it more likely that I'll get the coronavirus in Europe and die, or that I get in a car accident on Route 24 on the way to the airport?
For now, I am leaning towards going on my trip as planned. That may change as conditions continue to deteriorate over the next 2-3 weeks.