Will Travel Bans Effectively Contain Outbreaks Like Coronavirus?

One of the mandatory quarantines in response to the 2019-nCoV (commonly known as the novel coronavirus) is severe travel bans in different countries, which is essentially not letting anyone from China travel to certain countries in order to help reduce the amount of people that can get infected. Several countries have already done it, with U.S. being one of the firsts to do so, right after it has decided to take extra precautions by increasing security at every airport that has an incoming flight from China.

With that in mind, some see it as a xenophobic response from the right wing. How come?

Well, it’s because while scientists and health officials start to understand the new virus more, information around it is changing; information that goes against some of these restrictions, such as the aforementioned travel ban.

For example, new data revealed (from the cases in Germany) that even before someone has symptoms, the virus can already be spread from person-to-person. “The cat’s out of the bag,” as they say, with millions of people traveling in and out of different destinations before the epidemic was even recognized, or before they began having symptoms. In fact, data also revealed that it can be spread via inanimate objects such as dishes, pans and handles, to name a few.

One other finding is detecting the virus’ genetic material in stool.

Does the travel ban actually help or is it counterproductive? Some are saying that it’s the latter, and that these types of measures would only drive people underground.

For example, after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a global public health emergency, it also said that it doesn’t recommend limiting trade and movement, however, the U.S. expanded the travel ban to six additional Muslim majority countries despite the virus hailing from China.

“Xenophobia, stigma… are some of the consequences that we worry about when it comes to diseases that are associated with some foreign group,” Dr. Tara Kirk Sell, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Preparedness, said.

As such, experts are hoping the travel ban will be retracted soon.

Coronavirus The 2019-nCoV, a new type of coronavirus, was first discovered at a small animal and seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China. Pixabay