Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 17, 2020

The Results Are In: Oxford Team Discover Existing Medication Capable of Helping COVID-19 Patients

In the quest to find a drug that can be used to treat the most unwell coronavirus patients, Oxford researchers have discovered that a cheap and widely available corticosteroid medicine called Dexamethasone cuts the risk of death by a third. Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of various illnesses involving inflammation in the body.

Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.”

Brits Bring the Virus Back to New Zealand

Two travellers from the UK arrived in New Zealand and have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. This follows a period of no-new-cases which last week meant that New Zealand could ease restrictions within their own borders. New Zealand’s Prime Minister has requested that the army keep a tighter control on the quarantine measures at the border.

Beijing Prepares to Contain Potential Second Outbreak

This week, Beijing has once again returned to a state of lockdown following 106 new cases which appear to have spread within the city’s largest wholesale market. City officials have contacted over 200,000 people in order to test them to help get the the bottom of how the virus has spiked again.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • US Airlines have threatened to ban passengers who refuse to wear a face mask in a bid to encourage people to comply with government advice and to slow the spread of the virus. Figures suggest that more than a quarter of confirmed global cases have occurred in the USA.
  • France’s phased removal of lockdown restrictions was unexpectedly extended to Paris on Sunday, allowing cafes and restaurants in the capital to open their doors for trade so long as workers and patrons follow WHO guidelines of keeping a 1m distance from each other.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Close-up of a solution in a dropper, Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 9, 2020

New Zealand Declares Itself COVID-Free

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has declared that there have been no new coronavirus cases in New Zealand for 17 days and has subsequently embarked on lifting restrictions previously placed on the country. In interviews with press, Ms Arden said that she ‘did a little dance’ with her daughter in joy and in relief that the virus appears to have been defeated.

The country will remove all coronavirus-related curbs on shops, restaurants and offices and physical distancing will no longer be mandatory, although it will remain encouraged.

Other COVID-Free nations include Australia & Fiji.

On your bike

Cycling Oxford, Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Cycling Oxford, Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Tourism operator Kuoni said it has seen a “clear upturn” in demand for holidays in 2021, with the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, Spain and India high on the wish list for many customers.
  • The longest economic expansion in American history is officially over; The National Bureau of Economic Research declared Monday that a recession began in February.
  • Museums and cinemas have begun reopening in Denmark.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

More information:

Watch: Adventure Golf – New Zealand

Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Forgotten Seafarers

Forgotten Seafarers

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.

In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.

Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.

Discover the seafarer way of life with our series Tough Boats

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarer union Nautilus International, said many UK seafarers were working 90-hour weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’s a confined workplace – not the Hilton Hotel – for three, four or five months. The accommodation is fairly basic and you’re with a small group of people.

“You get into a situation where you think, ‘I’ve got six weeks to go,’ ‘I’ve got four weeks to go,’ and even when this is extended by 24 hours it’s pretty awful. It’s worse when it’s so open-ended.”

Despite uncertainty, seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

More information:

Watch: Tough Boats – The Arctic

Download: Tough Boats – Great Lakes

Read: Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Read: Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!

Mood Boosters

Positive news

John Krasinski of The Office has launched a YouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.

Online therapy

The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.

Watch something inspiring

Head over to the Pilot Guides Store and download any number of our shows. We’re currently loving our Pocket Guides (currently half price!) for planning our next city break, and Travelling in the 70’s for some good old fashioned nostalgia!

70's cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70's by Pilot Productions

70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions

Schedule video calls with loved ones

Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.

A screen-ban

Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.

Sleep

Physical exercise

In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!

Historic Walks Hollywood - Justine in the Hollywood Hills

If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.

DVD: Historic Walks

Sleep hygiene

Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!

Routine

Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.

Sleeping in a yurt... Pilot Productions

Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions

Finances

Cash KingMake a zero-sum budget

Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!

Seek help

If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.

Home

Spring clean

It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.

Clean out your closet

Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!

Get creative in the kitchen

Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!

A spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious.

spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious. And more or less exactly what you’ll get when you combine the contents of your cupboard…

Work

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you're done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

Working from home

Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:

  • Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
  • Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
  • Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
  • Take a lunch break!
  • Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.

Furloughed or on leave

Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.

Unemployed

As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.


Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions

World’s Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

World's Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

Scientists at Curtin University have discovered that a crater in Yarrabubba, Western Australia, may be the world’s oldest, and that the asteroid’s landing 2.2 billion years ago may one of the reasons behind the end of the last Ice Age.

Despite the crater itself having been discovered in the outback in 1979, scientist had previously not tested the mineral deposits left behind to determine its age. The crater is not visible to the naked eye due to billions of years of erosion.

To determine when the asteroid hit the earth, scientists tested tiny zircon and monazite crystals found within the rocks whose properties will have changed upon the impact. Tiny amounts of uranium and iron deposits within the crystals enabled the scientists to figure out relatively accurately how long ago the asteroid struck.

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

The team of scientist are very excited about the age of the crater especially in the context of the Earth’s other events.

At this point, 2.2 billion years ago, the Earth’s surface was covered in ice, and it is now believed that the water vapour produced by this asteroid striking such a thick sheet of ice could be the reason behind a warming effect on the planet, perhaps even ending the Ice Age. Water vapor today is the most abundant greenhouse gas within the Earth’s atmosphere. Without greenhouse gasses, it is estimated that the average temperature of the planet would be -18 degrees Celsius, rather than the 15 degrees Celsius that currently stands. With additional greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere, the average temperature of the planet is set to continue to rise.

Other theories have suggested that the carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, released from volcanic eruptions may be responsible.


Main Image: Barlangi Hill, part of the Yarrabubba crater. Graeme Churchyard, Flickr Creative Commons

 

Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe

Smoke From Australia's Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe

The smoke from the recent bush fires on the east coast of Australia will continue to push across the Pacific and will eventually make at least one full circuit around the globe, according to NASA.

The space agency has used satellites to map the trajectory of the smoke which has so far affected New Zealand and parts of South America.

The smoke has travelled so high into the atmosphere it has moved into the stratosphere, the second atmospheric layer surrounding the earth, which could cause unprecedented and rapid changes in global atmospheric conditions. NASA added that the volume of smoke being released into the atmosphere is also responsible for multiple pyrocumulonimbus events – or fire-generated thunderstorms.

The agency is studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and whether it provides “a net atmospheric cooling or warming”.

In this tragic spell of bush fires, over 2000 homes have been destroyed and 28 people killed. The air quality of those living in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra are experiencing severely diminished air quality which has been deemed ‘hazardous’ on several occasions by Australian officials. The is wide concern over public health.

Some of the harmful gasses released from the fires include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There is also great concern for the ultra-fine particles released into the atmosphere — invisible to the naked eye but able to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Officials have warned that face masks alone are not enough protection from these harmful particles, and has urged people to refrain from exercising outdoors.

More information:

Read: Extreme Australia

Main Image: Ferocious Fires in Australia Intensify, NASA

The Big Screen: True History of the Kelly Gang

The Big Screen: True History of the Kelly Gang

The new film depicting the life of famous bush-ranger Ned Kelly and his family is set to hit Australian cinemas on January 9 with a following release date in the UK of February 28.

After the death of his father – who was also a criminal – Kelly’s life of crime began at age 14, with his first prison stay coming just one year after. In and out of prison for various offences including murder, the next 10 years of his life were tumultuous and bloody.

One of the incidents he was most famous for occurred in April of 1878 after it was claimed that he shot a police trooper named Fitzpatrick who had arrived at his mother’s home.  The real facts of the case were never uncovered but nonetheless, family members, including: Mrs. Kelly, her son-in-law, William Skillion, and a neighbour, William Williamson, were arrested and charged with aiding and supporting the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick.  They were convicted.  Mrs. Kelly was sentenced to three years, while the men were sentenced to six.  Ned and his brother Dan were nowhere to be found, as they had gone into hiding in the Wombat Ranges. They were still fervently sought after, even offering a reward for information leading to their capture.

Some would say that Ned was a common hero, while others proclaim he was a common murderer. A gritty string of crime and punishment accompanied his life, which he later justified in a letter which became known as the Kelly’s manifesto. After a prolific career, he was eventually hanged for his crimes at the young age of 25. It is said that his final words were “such is life”.

Read more about the life of Ned Kelly and his Family before heading to the picture-house to see the universally acclaimed movie.

More on the Kelly Gang:

Read: Colonial Australia – The Gold Rush and Ned Kelly

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.

The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.

Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.

The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.

This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.

The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.

More information:

Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air

By Sofi Summers

Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons

Tectonic: New Zealand White Island Volcano Erupts

Tectonic: New Zealand White Island Volcano Erupts

New Zealand’s White Island Volcano, known locally as Whakaari, has erupted with a tragic blast leaving 34 people injured, 8 people missing and 6 confirmed dead. The eruption took place at approximately 2:00PM local time on December 9th 2019.

White Island’s volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, situated off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s north island, attracting tourists, geologists and volcanologists from afar. The volcano has been releasing volcanic gasses constantly at least since it was first sighted by Captain James Cook 250 years ago in 1769.

In the past, the volcano has had eruptions of Lava, ash and pyroclastic flows, with the most recent significant eruption having been in 2016. In October 2019, the volcano was raised to a Volcanic Alert level 2, stating that there was increased volcanic activity and indicating that an eruption was more likely to occur.

Further seismic activity in the hours following the eruption included subsequent eruptions, and an earthquake at a magnitude of 5.3 in Gisborne, Northeastern New Zealand in the early hours of December 10th. The island is now on Volcanic Alert level 3, with GeoNet stating that the volcano is in minor eruption, but that the alert level could change without notice.

Of the confirmed fatalities, the injured and the missing people, all were either visiting the island as tourists or operating the tours. Pilot Productions extends it’s deepest sympathies and thoughts to all those affected by the eruption.

More information:

Study Guide: Volcanoes

Read: Captain Cook continues to inspire travel habits

Main Image: White Island, New Zealand – Volcano, Thru MyShutter, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia’s “Matildas”

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia's "Matildas"

The bosses of Australia’s national football team have laid-down a new deal for the female Matildas meaning they will get the same 24% share of commercial revenue as the male team.

The new deal comes following the Matildas’ campaign during the Women’s World Cup this summer for female football players to receive fairer pay. The World Cup gained more support and viewership than ever before, with over 82 million people watching the final between the USA and the Netherlands – A 56% uplift on the previous games in 2015.

The public’s increased interest and support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the game, with FIFA

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

President Gianni Infantino pledging to spend $1 billion on women’s football over the next four years.

However, Football Federation Australia’s decision is the first of its kind, with clear ambitions to set precedent on how women could be paid more fairly further afield than football. The worldwide movement originally gained most of its traction in America, where the game is very big business.

Along with the issue of cash, the national team are also addressing the current differences in training between the two teams, with women set to receive the same coaching as their male counterparts; better negotiating of sponsorship deals; and providing greater parental support systems to help the players return to the game post-partum.

The female players will also be afforded the luxury of flying business class when travelling for games – a luxury previously reserved for only the male team.

Main Image: Australia’s Matildas at the Women’s World Cup 2019, Liondartois, Wikimedia Commons

By Sofi Summers