Topline: As the number of coronavirus cases surpasses 110,000 people worldwide, with more reported daily, the federal government has issued a number of travel advisories—here’s where to avoid, and where it’s probably okay to visit:
- The Centers for Disease Control has three levels of travel advisories, with Level 1 being the lowest caution and Level 3 being the highest (with China, Iran, Italy and South Korea on that Level 3 list).
- The CDC has designated Japan with a Level 2 advisory due to ongoing community transmission of the disease, which means older people and people with chronic underlying medical conditions should reconsider traveling there, while Hong Kong is a Level 1 advisory, based on its risk of limited community transmission.
- The State Department also has a four tier travel advisory system, with Level 4 being the most severe warning, and says travel to Level 3 countries Azerbaijan, Mongolia and Turkmenistan should be reconsidered due to the outbreak; the department released a complete country-by-country advisory database on Monday specifically for coronavirus.
- “I think you can go anywhere [internationally] if you don’t mind being delayed by 14 days,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases scholar at Johns Hopkins University, adding, “it’s not in terms of ‘it’s safe’ or ‘not safe,’ but logistically feasible to get home in time” if a traveler is quarantined.
- Adalja said that domestic travel within the U.S. is safe for most people, (and the CDC hasn’t recommended travel restrictions within the U.S.) but “if you’re older or have underlying medical conditions, reconsider nonessential travel because we are likely seeing more community spread.”
- “We have to dispel the notion that coronavirus is a travel-related illness,” said Adalja, because the virus has likely been spreading since November, and health officials are catching up to containment and treatment.
Crucial quote: “We already have community transmission within the United States,” Shira Doran, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts University, told NPR Friday. “So, at some point, it’s not going to be any riskier to go to another country than it is to stay right here.”
Key background: The coronavirus outbreak has thrown a wrench into travel worldwide, with numerous airlines cancelling flights, cruise ships quarantining passengers and even domestic trains, such as Amtrak’s Acela, canceling service between major cities. Travelers around the world have been quarantined as countries work to contain the disease. Multiple businesses and corporations have suspended travel for employees. Major conferences and events, like the South By Southwest music and culture festival, have also been called off. The CDC has recommended travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Level 3 countries: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. (Entry by Chinese and Iranian nationals has also been suspended due to the outbreak). And the State Department has advised against all traveling by cruise ships.
Tangent: 15 countries. That’s how many are designated “Level 4, Do Not Travel” by the State Department. But only one country—China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated—was designated Level 4 due to the outbreak.
– Lisette Voytko, Forbes Staff, Business
[BREAKING] Coronavirus Update: Global COVID-19 cases pass one million
While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.
The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed a million with the current figure being at 1,005,858.
The increase in new reported cases around the world has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.
The death toll continues to rise globally, and is currently at 51,644.
Italy leads with 13,915. Spain is second with 10,096 . The U.S. is third with 5,768. France is fourth with 4,503, and China, where the virus originated from, is fifth with 3,318.
The figure of the global recoveries stands at 210,577.
Here are the numbers in Africa:
|Country||Confirmed Cases||Confirmed Deaths||Confirmed Recoveries|
|Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)||6||1|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||3|
|Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)||194||1||9|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)||123||11||3|
|Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)||9|
Note: The numbers will be updated as new information is available.
Surge Of Smartphone Apps Promise Coronavirus Tracking, But Raise Privacy Concerns
Topline: A pan-European team of researchers announced Wednesday their plan to release a smartphone app that would notify users if they’ve been exposed to someone infected with coronavirus, the latest example of tech-driven coronavirus solutions that have also raised concerns about user privacy.
- A European project called Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing is working toward releasing a coronavirus tracing app in the next week that would use anonymous Bluetooth technology to track when a smartphone comes in close range with another, so if a user were to test positive for coronavirus those at risk of infection could be notified.
- Contact tracing, or determining people who may have been exposed to someone with a virus, is an established aspect of pandemic control and was used effectively to tackle coronavirus in countries like China, Singapore and South Korea in the form of smartphone tracking.
- University of Oxford researchers and the U.K. government are working on a similar project— but unlike other smartphone tracking systems, the British version in development would be based on voluntary participation and bet on citizens inputting their information out of a sense of civic duty.
- The U.S. government is in talks with companies like Facebook FB and Google GOOGL and other tech companies about tracking if users are social distancing using large amounts of anonymous, aggregated location data— this information is less precise, and more likely to anticipate outbreaks rather than pinpoint individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
- 1.5 million Israelis have voluntarily downloaded a mobile app that alerts users if they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus— but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has still ordered that potential coronavirus carriers have their phones monitored, a controversial move the government says is necessary, as the 17% of the population using the app is not enough to fight off the pandemic.
- Moscow , on a city-wide lockdown since Monday, announced Wednesday that a new phone app that will officials to track the movements of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the capital city would be launched on Thursday, saying the government will lend a smartphone to anyone unable to download the app.
Crucial quote: “We’re exploring ways that aggregated anonymized location information could help in the fight against [coronavirus]. One example could be helping health authorities determine the impact of social distancing, similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps ,” Google spokesman Johnny Luu told the The Washington Post. He made sure to note it “would not involve sharing data about any individual’s location, movement, or contacts.”
Key background: Private and public entities alike are looking for ways to fight off coronavirus as the pandemic continues. On Wednesday, there were more than 900,000 confirmed cases worldwide and nearly 50,000 deaths.Officials told The New York Times NYT that The National Health Service, Britain’s centralized national health system, is trusted by citizens— and paired with the strong data privacy laws in place, said they think people would agree to join the effort to share their private information to help trace infections. However, American tech firms are reported to still be skeptical about sharing substantial data with the U.S. government ever since Edward Snowden revealed the NSA was collecting information from the firms clandestinely.
Surprising fact: The information tech companies have access to data that sheds light on Americans’ behavior in light of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Facebook analysis, restaurant visits fell about 80% in Italy and 70% in Spain— while Americans only stopped eating out at a rate of 31%.
5 Tips For SMEs To Counter The Covid-19 Crisis
It was recently reported by ratings agency S&P Global that the coronavirus outbreak has plunged the world into a recession. On the home front, a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the country resulted in the President of South Africa imposing a 21-day country-wide lockdown, starting from Thursday, 26 March 2020. Combine this with the fact that the country also recently announced to be in its third recession since 1994 it’s safe to say that many businesses are beginning to feel the effects of the pandemic.
The impact of the coronavirus on small businesses is likely to be substantial, especially for local businesses who are already feeling the pinch, as financial and market uncertainty can easily translate into an emotional crisis that can overwhelm our systems. However, help is on the way as the Department of Small Business Development announced that a Debt Relief Fund has been set up to assist small, medium and micro enterprises impacted by COVID-19.
While this relief is welcomed, it is still vital for leaders to step up. The world has been through crises before, but during these significantly difficult times, the economic impact may be as severe or possibly worse. As such, those in leadership positions must use past crises as examples and apply what was learnt to keep the country on course and minimise the impact of the pandemic.
Karl Westvig, CEO at Retail Capital, has pinpointed the visible areas that are affected and outlined a few pointers to help small business owners weather the storm.
The first victim of panic is liquidity – banks, asset managers and funders stop lending. When they cannot calculate the potential risk, they will not lend. Therefore, it is critical to shore up cash by drawing down on available facilities and suspending any unnecessary investments. Reduce expenses and manage cash flow daily.
Get Your Best Team on It
When a business is growing, we tend to shift our best people into roles linked to growth and new initiatives. In a crisis, these people need to move into the highest priority roles. These roles would include collecting from customers, raising facilities or engaging key clients.
Morale and Communication
People need leadership. This would include authentic and regular communication about the situation, what the business requires and how this will be achieved. You can’t control the circumstances, but you can control the response and actions. This will create more certainty.
Events evolve quickly and every day is critical. Leaders must be hands-on. They have to be in touch with customers, suppliers, funders and staff. They have to collect data on everything – the mood, the financial metrics, even customer stories. Some of the best information is anecdotal, not just big data.
It’s tough to lead when you don’t understand all the underlying levers. These can change in a crisis. What worked in a stable environment can go out of the window in an instant. The best approach is to start again, listen to customers and then adapt your policies within your framework.
“This is not a manual on how to handle the current crisis, but hopefully, the points mentioned above can add to what you are already doing. In simple terms, it is easy to be overwhelmed, so tackle a few things very quickly and with commitment. This will create certainty and lead to action. The alternative is paralysis,” concludes Westvig.
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