Starting with only a few cases in Wuhan in China in December 2019, to more that 650,000 cases worldwide, this global outbreak is sadly becoming one of the biggest crisis we have seen in our times! The situation is so bad that IMF has confirmed, as of 28th March 2020, that the global economy has driven to recession. There are frontline medical staff overworked in many first-world countries trying to battle this deadly virus. Almost 3.3 million people in US reported unemployment, breaking the previous record of 695,000 people in October 1982.
Some have categorized this as a War situation, with lower testing capacity of countries, poor healthcare infrastructure and major businesses hit – especially the Airlines and Travel Industry! Although WHO does confirm that on an average 290,000 to 650,000 people die every year due to Influenza (seasonal flu), the Covid-19 situation was specifically declared as global pandemic in early March, in view of its uncertainty, lack of preparedness around the world and an average mortality rate of 3.4% as per WHO (initial estimate was 2% with high variance in different countries).
Most visited countries in the world with highest number of infected cases…
Countries like USA, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, China and UK have been consistently topping the list of of the most visited countries in the world over the last few years. These are also few of the top ten countries with highest cases of coronavirus with USA alone reaching over 100,000 cases.
The Lockdowns, Travel Ban and Social Distancing…
Tourism worldwide and in major cities have come to a standstill due to lockdowns and travel bans introduced by countries to stem the outbreak. During this month alone, countries including USA, EU, Malaysia, Singapore and India have exercised strict travel bans – with no foreigners allowed to enter in the country, cancelling large number of international flights as well. Experts say there is a second wave of infection coming up in some Asian countries including Singapore and China, due to some imported cases of the residents and citizen returning back home.
Studies have indicated that one infected person can potentially transmit the virus to 5-10 people and on an average those 5 to 10 infected people will spread the disease to another 5 to 10 case and so on. If we do a simple mathematical calculation around it with an assumption that 1 person does spread it to 4 people, seven such cycles of transmission will result in 21845 infected people (4^0 + 4^1 + 4^2 + 4^3 + 4^4 + 4^5 + 4^6 +4^7) – this is just an assumption and an example. Many governments have exercised partial or full lockdowns. For China, the situation is becoming better, mostly because they locked down early and exercising almost two months of lockdown along their ability to detect the cases early on and isolating them. Most of the new cases were imported cases on account of people returning as the restrictions were eased or lifted.
Potentially, reducing the rate of infection from 1 person spreading to 4 people to 1 person spreading to say, 0.4 people (essentially, lowering the rate way below one as a result of social distancing, quarantine, isolation and lockdowns) have proved useful. So, doing the same math with the new rate, they essentially reduced the cases close to 0 (0.4^0 + 0.4^1 +0.4^2 +0.4^3 +0.4^4 +0.4^5 + 0.4^6 +0.4^7 = 1.6655744) – this is just an assumption and an example.
Looking into the statistics for Singapore itself, about 50% or more of the new cases over the past few days are imported cases, who have recent history of travel to Europe, N. America, ASEAN and other parts of Asia. Despite strong measures since as early as Jan first week, the cases spiked up recently and the Singapore government has put stricter travel restrictions as well as social distancing measures over the last one week.
Relating the effect of these control measures where major cities of the world are being shut, have brought tourism to standstill. Even day to day commute and mobility activities have also gone down significantly over the last two weeks.
Hotels have lowest occupancy rates of all times…
STR, a Global Hospitality Research company stated that hotel occupancy was down to between 24.4% to 53%. Average revenue drop per room is almost 32.5%.
AirBnB bookings dropped by 96% in Beijing and 41% in Rome by the second week of March’ 20 as compared to the second week of January’ 20.
Airlines have taken a major hit…
Some of the biggest airlines around the world have taken major hits and have grounded their airplanes including Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines. United Airlines announced that it plans to cancel 95% of its international flights in April. Singapore Airlines shared this is the “the greatest challenge that the SIA Group has faced in its existence” – Stopping 96% of its flights grounding 138/147 planes. Global flights on an average have plummeted down to about 50% over just the last two weeks.
But there is a ray of hope…
In these difficult times, which are here to pass, there still is hope as the Logistics and Airlines Industry unites to ship cargo and medical supplies to countries in need – through cargo planes, military jets, private jets and even passenger planes. Airlines such as Qatar Airways are still operating (business as usual) to take most of the passengers back to their homes. Air New Zealand is strictly following Social Distancing for their travellers to ensure the safety of passengers on board.
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As part of the global fight against the #COVID19, one of our #A330neo test aircraft is back from China with supplies, including around 2 million masks, with the majority to be donated to governments for medical and life-saving teams on the front line. Thanks to all the people and partners involved in making this happen. We have also reached out to our home nation governments to offer further support with sourcing these critical supplies. At #Airbus we are doing everything we can to keep our employees safe while we keep fighting against the #COVID19 pandemic.
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We are doing our best. The best we can. To this day Lufthansa has flown 17,000 passengers on 80 flights back home to Germany from abroad. So that everyone can be at home with their loved ones. We are doing this on behalf of tour operators and the federal government. You may find all information on the repatriation flights at diplo.de. We are also transporting humanitarian goods such as protective gear and face masks to wherever they are needed most. For example, today we have flown around 30 tones of medical supplies from China to Europe. In order to be able to transport as much as possible we are currently utilizing not only our cargo freighters, but also parked passenger aircraft. And we have provided health authorities and hospitals with 920,000 of our own face masks. They urgently need face masks in order to take care of the sick and to save lives. At the same time we are trying to rebook as many Lufthansa customers as possible to the remaining flights. Our service center staff is focusing primarily on those whose flights are scheduled to take off within the next 72 hours. We therefore kindly ask you for your understanding should you encounter longer waiting times. If you have any questions or if you would like to rebook to a later time, please have a look first at our FAQs at lufthansa.com. These are exceptional times for us all. Stay calm. Stick to facts. And most importantly: stay healthy. #WeAreInThisTogether
While the Airlines and Medical fraternity are doing their part, Innovators and Tech companies are getting together to provide data and statistics and 3D printing solutions etc. and fighting this as one. Most countries had neglected what happened in China and are now at the brink of a complete breakdown. Social distancing and cancelling unnecessary travel are one of the few ways anyone can contribute. #stayhomestaysafe
There is optimism this time shall pass, but at what cost? When will this end? Will we be prepared for the next epidemic? We recommend the video below for some insights.