Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

At present, more than 14,000 firefighters are fighting around 24 major fires across the state of California which continue to grow.

It is estimated that this year, an area totalling around five times the size of London has been burned by these wildfires.

The fires do not stop at the state border – Oregon and Washington state are facing similar destruction.

The smoke from the fires has turned the skies orange, prompting calls for various neighbourhoods most at risk to be evacuated. Similar fires in 2018 damaged or destroyed 24,226 structures, and caused 100 confirmed fatalities.

Dry and hot weather, paired with gusty winds, is helping the fires to spread.

Los Angeles county saw temperatures of 121F (49.5C), a record high over the weekend, and San Francisco hit 100F (38C) on Sunday, breaking a previous same-day record of 92F (33C) set more than 100 years ago in 1904.

These temperatures have two large risks attached to them. First, when combined with dry, gusty winds, can facilitate the spread of a fire. Second, they result in an increased electricity usage, primarily from the use of air conditioning systems, somewhat overloading the electricity lines. The power grids in California are notoriously sensitive to high temperatures.

California power companies have warned of power outages to attempt to control the situation and prevent any further fires from starting. Dried woodland material falling onto electrified lines was the direct cause of one blaze in the 2017 wildfires.

These record breaking temperatures are also causing electrical storms, with lightning striking dried areas of woodland. Dead, dry trees are the perfect fuel for a large blaze.

This week, one particular blaze was reported to have been ignited by a ‘pyrotechnic’ device used for a gender reveal stunt. Devices such as these often combust, releasing a coloured smoke, indicating the gender of the baby.

More information

Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe (Jan 2020)


Main image: The Woolsey Fire, California, 2018. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel, Explore, Defer?

For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!

As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.

However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.

Why not check out our free Study Guides?

In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!

Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.

Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World

Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.

COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.

Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.

“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
25 August, 2020

First documented coronavirus reinfection reported in Hong Kong

A man in his 30’s is reported to have become reinfected with coronavirus more than 4 months after his first diagnosis.

Hong Kong scientists say that the two strains of the virus are “clearly different”, making it the world’s first proven case of reinfection

The World Health Organization warns it is important not to jump to conclusions based on the case of one patient, and experts say reinfections may be rare and not necessarily serious. It is fully expected that the virus will mutate over time.

Usain Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 following his birthday celebrations.

Usain Bolt, world sprinting superstar, has tested positive for COVID-19 just days following his “big, mask-free” birthday party.

The Jamaican 100m and 200m sprint world record holder is said to be isolating at his home in Jamaica, and has so far not displayed any symptoms of the illness.

Usain Bolt, Nick Webb, Flickr Creative Commons

Did these countries dodge the COVID bullet?

Read this BBC article about the 10 nations that managed to keep COVID at bay!

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics


Main image: Hong Kong, November 2011, MojoBaron, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 18, 2020

Italy closes nightclubs after a surge in infections

The government of Italy have ordered nightclubs and other dancing venues to close following a spike in infections leading back to evening entertainment venues. The government have also advised that anyone out and in a public space between 6pm and 6am should wear a face covering.

Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister has also urged young people to be more cautious due to the risk of causing “real damage” to their parents and grandparents by transmitting the virus to them.

Infection discovered at Utah mink farm

Mink at two farms in Utah have tested positive for the zoonotic virus which causes covid-19 in humans. Employees at the farm have also tested positive for covid-19. Researchers are currently trying to determine whether the humans passed the disease onto the mink or vice-versa, and if any other mink have been infected at other farms.

Bali’s reopening pushed back to September

Heavily reliant on tourism for income, Bali has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Inviting in a record-breaking 6.28 million foreign visitors in 2019, covid-19 has put pay to the island’s tourism winning streak this year with only 880,000 foreigners arriving in the first half of 2020 .

Many of Bali’s 4 million residents have been relying on the tourism industry for generations, with tourism making up over 80% of Bali’s local economy. With people staying home due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, its residents are struggling.

Bali resident and Aussie expat Jon Gwyther, who has lived in Bali for 20 years, has documented the eerie streets of tourist hotspot Kuta, where “Only Echos Remain”

Only Echoes Remain

Posted by Pilot Guides on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Norway ‘recommends’ mask wearing

The Norwegian government has introduced guidance encouraging people to wear masks on public transport when a safe distnace of 1 metre cannot be maintained, such as rush hour. Somewhat late to the mask-party, this face mask recommendation is the first the government has made since the beginning of the pandemic.

Norwegian health officials are certain that the population understand the magnitude of the situation and will choose to follow guidance, and do not expect to have the rules enforced by the police.

Oslo’s bus operator, Ruker, along with Vy, the national rail operator, have said that they will not ask people to disembark if the do not wear a face covering, and that it is every individual’s responsibility to wear their mask and keep their distance.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Amazon today unveiled plans to create 3,500 new jobs as it gears up to return to office life with an expanded physical presence across the US. The firm will again buck the global trend and will be extending its office space in 6 major US locations.
  • The four-day Democratic National Convention is being held virtually this week, with live and prerecorded speeches coming from across the country along with virtual events.

Main image: American Mink, Kary Nieuwenhuis, Flickr Creative Commons

Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

The continuum of quarantine and travel rules around the world along with impending recession is causing huge damage throughout the travel industry.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) now believes that the Airline Industry will not recover until 2024. When we look back at 2020, we will remember it for the worst year in the history of aviation. The airline industry is at a very fragile juncture, will they be able to turn their losses into a profit in 2021/22 so badly needed to pay their debts.

These projections are not very reassuring for the phobic travellers among us.

While the number of grounded aircraft has fallen, airlines are still flying at very low capacity with some scheduled flights cancelled due to empty aircraft. This really is unthinkable, but presently unavoidable, a reality the phobic travellers among us will not appreciate.

In a bid to soften the blow to business and to ensure a future for the company and it’s employees, British Airways has gone so far as to ask its pilots to take a pay cut of up to 20%.

The demand for travel being so low has created a financial void. Each time there is a glimmer of hope, the virus tugs on the rope and quarantine takes over, stopping our mechanical birds taking off to the exotic wonders of our planet.

On the subject of our planet, looking to the future, Airlines will need to commit to cutting their carbon footprint. If the renewable jet fuels such as carbon-recycled materials are to be successful, airlines must work towards replacing old technology with new.

Perhaps this will somewhat mark the end of an era; BA’s fleet of iconic Boeing 747 have already been announced as heading into retirement — the aircraft having made its first flight February 1969. Technology – and environmental policy – have changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Quite appropriately, now only the most fuel efficient modern fleet will cope with the aftermath of the Aviation’s biggest crises.

This will be a particular blow for the phobic traveller. Anyone who has flown on a 747 knows what a great aircraft they are!

Countries are gradually lifting travel restrictions for non-essential travel, but there are still many entry rules to be aware off. For example, and among many other restrictions around the world, all residents of the UK need to submit a contact form no earlier than 48hrs prior to travel in order to assist with contact tracing.

It is best to keep up to speed with your local news provider, and if in any doubt to check your government for the latest travel advice.

As time passes, the phobic traveller will be wondering when and how to travel. Many people are at an awkward impasse between simmering wanderlust, wanting to keep healthy and safe, and the civic duty of stopping the spread.

Much like the after effects of 9/11, a new chapter is beginning, changing the nuances of how we travel.

For The Phobic Traveller, this is Neda Dorudi


Main image: 747 and 777 at YVR, JamesZ_Flickr, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 13, 2020

The Good News

Are you missing cruises this year? One Dorset ferry owner is taking nostalgic customers on mini-cruises to see the huge number of ships anchored between Portsmouth and Plymouth whilst they are out of service due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Not So Good News

Disruptive and challenging border rules in New South Wales, Australia have been criticised and branded ‘a political stunt’ by a hospital who can’t get their staff over the border to work. Lismore Base Hospital, NSW, which is around 70 miles from the border with Queensland, said over 100 doctors who reside the other side of the border are unable to travel in to work, leaving the hospital short staffed and relying heavily on relief doctors.

The United Kingdom have officially declared a recession – the first in 11 years – due to the impact of the coronavirus. The chancellor has stated the nation’s largely service based economy as the reason for the lockdown’s severe impact on GDP, which fell by a fifth in the 3 months to August.

New Zealand returns to lockdown after 5 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the first ‘community transmitted’ cases in over 100 days. Prime minister Jacinda Arden has also announced that the September 29 election date is under review following pressure from the opposition to move polling to a later date.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Spain remains in the European spotlight as cases continue to rise at quite a dramatic rate, topping the charts for infections within Europe.

  • President Trump has this week attempted to re-write history, claiming that the “1917 Flu” ended World War II…

Main image: Welcome to New South Wales, Yun Huang Yong, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 5, 2020

Come Fly With Me

Virgin has unveilled designs for a new supersonic plane capable of travelling three-times faster than the speed of sound. A flight leaving London could reach Sydney in just 5 hours, though the jet would remain very exclusive, carrying only a handful of passengers, and is obviously not on 2020’s list of priorities. Back in the real world, uncertainty in the industry is causing Virgin huge financial worries, leading them to file for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US this week, in the fear that cash reserves will dry up if a rescue deal isn’t struck on August 25th.

While demand for long haul flights looks very uncertain, short trips around Europe appear to be on the uptick, with budget airline Easy Jet laying on more flights to meet demand for holidays. This comes in spite of the extremely volatile and quick-changing travel guidance issued by governments. All this swivel-hips, flip-flop, u-turn madness has taken its toll on citizens, leading people to make their own decisions and take the risks into their own hands!

Departures and arrivals are still pretty much nonexistent in Australia, even for travel within its own shores, as lockdowns continue to intensify. In fact, our award for world’s strangest lockdown this week goes to Aussie state of Queensland which has banned People from travelling to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) where there are no cases

Go Quietly

According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s first cruise sailing of 2020 departed Juneau on Saturday, carrying 30 crew and 37 passengers, for a weeklong voyage in Southeast Alaska. The cruise operators are planning a handful of additional voyages for the remained of 2020.

Tag; you’re it!

Singapore has introduced a tagging system to help assist in enforcing quarantine, whereby foreign visitors must wear a tagging device to ensure that they do not break the rules. Current rules dictate that only business and official travel is permitted to the country, subject to testing. It is reported that 2,200 vistors entered Singapore in June, down from 1.6 million the same month last year.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • According to a report by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity for Suriname to identify its health industry’s shortcomings, and to put a plan in place to address them.

  • The International Finance Corporation’s (World Bank Group) new $4 billion financing platform will help increase the supply to developing countries of health supplies needed to fight the pandemic.
  • After months gone by with no coronavirus deaths, Vietnam have reported a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

Main image: Melbourne Airport Flight Information… Non-existent! Pilot Productions

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 29, 2020

Foreigners banned from 2020’s Hajj Pilgrimage

Foreign worshipers have been forbidden from attending this year’s annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Just 10,000 people who already reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be allowed to attend in a bid to avoid further infections in the nation, which currently sits in the top 20 worst affected countries. Hajj welcomed 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019.

Read more: Muslim Pilgrimages: Hajj

The results of our twitter poll are in…

In our recent twitter poll, we asked our followers what their travel plans look like over the coming months. 63.6% of participants said that they will not be travelling anywhere before the end of the year, with none of the participants planning on travelling for business!

Although the poll is clearly a bit of fun, it does somewhat mimic the results of other, larger-scale surveys. In a recent survey by Opinium, on behalf of iCarhireinsurance.com, it was found 42% are planning on booking holidays for 2021, but won’t be bothering with 2020.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Bicycle discounts to be ‘prescribed’ by the NHS as Boris Johnson announces cycling revolution to combat obesity in the UK.

  • Kenya has banned the sale of alcohol as a part of an extension to their curfew which is expected to last for at least one more month.
  • More than half of Mumbai’s Slum dwellers have had the coronavirus, according to a scientific survey carried out by the municipality, the government think-tank Niti Aayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Main image: Holy Ka’ba, Camera Eye, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 21, 2020

First phase of human clinical trials shows Oxford Vaccine induces immune response

In the race to create a vaccine for COVID-19, Oxford Univesiry and AstraZeneca have this week announced that the human clinical trials show great promise.

When administered to patients in a controlled environment, the vaccine caused minor side effects in some cases which were reduced by taking paracetamol.

The team’s vaccine shows such promise that the UK government has done a deal to secure 100 million doses of the drug once it is ready.

Whilst the trials hold promise, it is still widely debated as to how far a vaccine could manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Pollard, the Oxford professor leading the research “We need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is one of the leading candidates among several others around the world, including an injection being developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, another from state-owned Chinese firm Sinopharm and one from US biotech firm Moderna.

It is thought that an effective vaccine would see an end to lockdowns and travel restrictions across the globe.

Wearing a mask is a display of patriotism, according to Trump

Italy to receive €210 billion stimulus package to help with post coronavirus economic recovery

The European Union have this week unveiled a €750bn stimulus package to help get the hardest hit corners of Europe back on their feet again in a post-coronavirus world. 28% of the funds, which are made up of both grants and a repayable loan, will be shared with Italy, whose economy had been expected to shrink up to 11% this year.

South Sea Bubble Border Security… over the top?

Australia and New Zealand have recorded an extremely low number of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic — in part because they are very isolated islands and in part because they closed their borders early on and they have remained tightly shut.

Now in Australia these borders are being erected internally as cases spike in states like Victoria. Communities have been confined within tower blocks, suburbs and cities, and state borders have been sealed. Those who ignore these draconian rules heavily are fined and threatened with prison.

Australia’s Border security forces have always been tough and need no encouragement to do their job. Check out a recent report here.

Look out for our forthcoming documentary on the history of pandemics, Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World.

Borders are certainly not new in history. Check out our Globe Guides – Borderlines show about the barriers that separate the world.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Brazilian COVID-19 deaths top 80,000. President Bolsanaro has voiced concerns surrounding lockdown restrictions and how they are killing the economy. Bolsanaro, having tested positive for the virus himself, has criticised the states and municipalities who are locking down, saying that “Without salaries and jobs, people die,”.
  • India’s biggest airline, IndiGo, has announced job cuts for up to 10% of its workforce as planes largely continue to remain grounded.
  • USA coronavirus cases are rapidly approaching 4 million.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Injection needle with Vaccination text, Marco Verch, Flickr Creative Commons