Coronavirus means travel deals galore – but would you snap them up? Bargain breaks are lurking, from a £9 flight to Norway to a ‘ridiculously-priced’ £139 break to Venice
- Travel expert Simon Calder says it is a ‘fantastic time to be a traveller’
- British Airways has two-night flight and hotel deals to Europe priced from £129
- A 17-night cruise with MSC flying from the UK to the U.S. is now priced at £599
With the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the travel industry, a growing number of bargain deals are emerging.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, travel expert Simon Calder described it as a ‘fantastic time to be a traveller’ with ‘amazing deals around’.
He highlighted one ‘ridiculous’ £139 per person British Airways deal to Venice he came across before going on air that included flights and a three-star hotel for three nights.
With the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the travel industry, a growing number of bargain deals are emerging
On further investigation, MailOnline Travel has also discovered several exceptional travel deals to be had by Britons.
For instance, Skyscanner is currently promoting dozens of cut-price flights as airlines battle it out to keep passenger numbers up.
For the month of March, you can pick up one way-flights from London to Norway or France for just £9. For £13 you could jet to Spain or Slovakia. Or, for £5 more, the colder climes of Russia.
Travel expert Simon Calder’s tips to reducing coronavirus risk at airports
Speaking on BBC Breakfast the travel expert advised:
- Avoid spending too long in queues, and the security check
- As soon as you’ve been through security go and wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you can
- Avoid people if they don’t look well
- If you’re buying food and drink, use contactless not cash
Moving further afield, return flight deals are running to Israel for £109, to the U.S. from £233 and £373 to Hong Kong.
On the package deal front, Virgin Holidays is currently offering three-night breaks to New York or Boston with flights included for £495.
And British Airways has several two-night trips to Europe, with flights and hotel stays included, priced from £129 per person.
Destinations include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Nice and Lisbon.
For those looking for a longer European jaunt, there are seven-night package deals to be had, including one to the Algarve for £199 per person and one to Malaga for £201 per person.
The £34billion cruise line industry has been heavily impacted by coronavirus following an outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess ship, which resulted in two deaths.
As a result, there are lots of cruise deals surfacing.
Cruisenation is currently promoting a 17-night trip with MSC from the UK to Miami, New York, Bermuda and the Azores for £599 per person with flights included.
Tui has also slashed its prices on upcoming cruise departures.
British Airways has a number of two-night trips to Europe, with flights and hotel stays included, priced from £129 per person
For example, a seven-night, all-inclusive cruise visiting the continental coasts (Spain and France) and departing March 1 has been reduced by £473, with the total cost including flights coming out at £477 per person.
Coronavirus is set to have huge financial repercussions for travel firms.
Royal Caribbean Cruises said it has canceled 30 sailings in Southeast Asia and changed several itineraries in the region due to the coronavirus outbreak, hitting its 2020 earnings per share by about $0.90.
Hyatt’s larger rivals Marriott International Inc and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc have also issued cancellation waivers for guests affected by the outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan until March 31.
The hotel chains did not immediately respond to requests for comment if they were extending the waiver to South Korea, Japan and Italy as well.
Virgin Holidays is currently offering three-night breaks to New York or Boston with flights included for £495
One analysis by Tourism Economics revealed that coronavirus could cost the U.S. travel industry $10billion.
The report, issued last month and based on the impact of the 2003 sars virus, indicates the Wuhan coronavirus could result in nearly eight million lost hotel room nights through the end of 2024.
A report by Baird Equity Research also cites the Wuhan coronavirus as a ‘growing headwind’ in the first quarter for the hotel industry.
Despite these reports, tour operators are reporting a mix of feelings from customers.
A survey by UK travel site www.spaghettitraveller.com with 200 respondents, revealed that flight cancellations are the biggest concern.
Travellers wearing protective facemasks amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus at Changi International Airport in Singapore
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
The signs of COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus, are often mild and are very similar to a cold, flu or chest infection.
Typical symptoms of infection include a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
These are common complaints at this time of year, so where someone has travelled or who they have come into contact with are important in determining whether they might have coronavirus.
The NHS considers people to be at risk if they have the symptoms above and have recently travelled to mainland China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or the north of Italy (north of Pisa and Florence).
People who have, in the past two weeks, been to the Hubei province of China, Iran, the South Korean cities of Daegu or Cheongdo in South Korea, or one of 11 quarantined towns in northern Italy are considered to be at risk even if they feel well.
The 11 towns in Italy are Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo.
Those who have come into contact with others who have visited those places and then feel ill may also be at risk.
People who fit any of the categories above should stay at home and self-isolate, away from other people, and phone NHS 111 for more advice. If you think you have the coronavirus do not go to a doctor’s surgery or hospital.
The virus can spread through coughing, sneezing, or by being close to someone for prolonged periods of time.
To protect themselves, people should cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away, wash their hands and avoid contact with sick people.
The results showed 82 per cent still planned on having a summer holiday, however 76 per cent said they were worried about flights being cancelled.
Of the 12 per cent that selected Thailand as their summer destination, 100 per cent stated they were worried about their flights being cancelled.
Only eight per cent said they would consider swapping for a staycation rather than going abroad due to the coronavirus.
Pressures on travel firms are certainly mounting.
Germany and France have warned of the ‘start of an epidemic’, as Europe scrambles to contain a coronavirus outbreak spreading from Italy across the continent.
Denmark, Estonia, Switzerland, Romania, North Macedonia, Greece, Norway and Georgia have all recorded their first cases in the past two days.
And today, two more cases of the killer coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK, both of them travellers who caught the virus in Europe.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty confirmed the cases, stating: ‘Two further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of UK cases to 15.
‘The virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres in Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, London.’
Department of Health chiefs refused to confirm where in Britain each unidentified patient was diagnosed.
Leading scientists have said the new cases ‘are not surprising’ and today called for the public to ‘keep calm’ and wash their hands with soap and water, as well as use and bin tissues to catch any coughs and sneezes.
In light of growing fears about the coronavirus, JetBlue announced today that it will suspend change and cancellation fees for new flight bookings.
The waiver pertains to all flights booked between February 27 and March 11, for travel completed by June 1.
The carrier hopes the move will encourage cautious customers to continue making travel plans in the coming weeks, despite uncertainty about how severe the coronavirus threat will become.
In other developments to the escalating coronavirus crisis:
- Microsoft issued a financial warning as the coronavirus outbreak disrupts its Chinese supply chain for Windows and Surface devices
- The London Stock Exchange dropped to a new 13-month low and traders warned that the coronavirus could lead to ‘anaemic global growth’
- Standard Chartered warned the coronavirus outbreak, as well as other factors including political unrest in Hong Kong, look set to deliver a big hit to its bottom line
- Restaurants warned of a slump in bookings because of fears more cases in the UK, which is also causing a shortage of wedding dresses
- Employers were urged not to shut offices as Mr Hancock warned an ‘over-reaction’ to the spate of cases in the UK could harm the economy
- The Health Secretary also announced plans to extend home-testing for the coronavirus, stopping suspected patients from needing to travel and potentially spreading the virus
- Insurers slammed by doctors for demanding sick notes for travellers trying to get a refund and cancel trips to countries with coronavirus outbreaks
- Saudi Arabia banned religious pilgrims from visiting Mecca or Medina to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the Kingdom
- Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix announced the race will go ahead next month despite the continuing global concern over the spread of coronavirus
- Private schools are being urged not to overreact to the coronavirus crisis because parents will demand their money back if they close or send students home
- Germany warned of the ‘start of an epidemic’ as Europe scrambles to contain a coronavirus outbreak spreading from Italy across the continent
- NHS chiefs launched a public coronavirus campaign telling people to wash their hands for 20 seconds before eating and after using public transport
- 160 British tourists trapped in a Tenerife hotel at the centre of coronavirus scare slammed the ‘absolutely awful’ response by the Government
- Cases of the killer coronavirus have now been recorded on every continent except Antarctica, after Brazil yesterday confirmed South America’s first infection
- Ireland’s rugby match against Italy on Saturday was postponed amid fears Italian fans could bring the virus to Dublin
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?
Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
Nearly 3,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 80,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
Source: Read Full Article