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

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 8, 2020

Lockdown returns to Melbourne…

Australia has been largely applauded for its rapid and effective response to the global Coronavirus outbreak and has seen success in containing the virus and stopping the spread by using a strict lockdown.

The state of Victoria, home to Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, had some of the nation’s most stringent lockdown measures and was among the last to lift its restrictions when the worst of the outbreak seemed to have passed.

But as much of the country emerges from the restrictions following their success, the virus has resumed spreading at an alarming rate in Melbourne, with a record 191 new infections just yesterday.

The city has today announced that it will re-lockdown for six weeks in a bid to once again stop the spread.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the city and some of its surrounds will be locked down under tougher restrictions than were imposed during the first shutdown which only began to lift on June 1. The borders between Victoria and its neighbour states will remain shut for the duration.

“We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago,” Andrews said.

…and to Israel

In a bid to spare the nation another total lockdown, Israel’s government has today announced that bars, gyms, nightclubs, swimming pools and event halls will all be closing again.

Israel lifted the initial lockdown on May 28 following a low of just 5 new cases reported on May 24. By July 1, new infection numbers had returned to pre-lockdown levels of 1000 new infections per day.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reports that 80% of people who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic on the day of the test., further highlighting the danger of asymptomatic transmission.
  • The United States surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, a number which is almost equal to population of Madrid, Spain’s most populous city and capital.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Melbourne Town Hall, Pilot Productions ©

Phobic Traveller: Getting Aviation Off The Ground

Phobic Traveller: Getting Aviation Off The Ground

In the history of aviation there as never been such a downturn.  2020 will certainly be remembered as the worst year in aviation history.  Airlines are set to lose $84.3 billion in 2020 and revenues will fall by more 50%, (source of figures IATA).

Closed borders and the reduction in passengers is the driving force behind the losses. Travel is 95% down since 2019 with the lowest point being April 2020.

A truly unusual phenomenon where neither the demand nor the supply is to blame. The demand for travel is there, but halted by border restrictions. And phobic travellers the world over are getting anxious about the effects of the restrictions and quarantining.

Parked aircraft are creating a space issue for airlines with so many being grounded.

But for some parts of our world it’s been a welcome respite.  Over tourism has driven many Venetians to despair with large ship liners polluting the Adriatic, and leaving tons of rubbish. Huge crowds have meant that even antiquities were being eroded from the moisture of tourist breath.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries of the 21st century, generating huge amounts of revenue and employing many, but there is always a price to pay the tourist erosion of unique cities such as Venice. During the lockdown we saw the Adriatic and canals pollution free and waters clear.

In the UK, the government has now created several ‘air bridges’ starting  from 6 July, allowing eager phobics to travel to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain and Norway. However, it won’t exactly be business as usual — hotels in popular holiday resorts like Spain may have to operate at half capacity due to physical distancing efforts.

There are hungry phobics just itching to get holidaying. Travel company bargains are presently reducing fares by 70 percent and some holiday companies have seen a rise of 50 per cent in bookings.

Could this the beginning of travel taking off again? Corporates won’t be travelling until end of 2020, maybe not until next year. Many companies are continuing a ban on travel.

But for the phobic traveller it’s exciting news. While the hunt for bargains begins, and the long wait rewarded with cheap flights and packages, after lockdown what better to look forward to than the sun and sea.

For The Phobic Traveller, this is Neda Dorudi

Main image: Planes at Logan Airport – Constitution Beach – East Boston – 2014-06-01, Bill Damon, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 24, 2020

Japan Launches Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer To Find Cure

Japan’s new so-called ‘Fugaku’ supercomputer, which has this week been declared the most powerful in the world, is to be used to search for a potential cure for the coronavirus.

The machine is capable of performing 513 quadrillion complicated mathematical operations every second. Fugaku requires 28 megawatts to run – more than two Eurostar trains!

Although it won’t be fully operational until next year, the team leading the project have already used it to run simulations on how cough and sneeze droplets spread through office spaces and public transport.

The White House’s expert on infectious diseases has warned the US is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr Fauci has highlighted recent spikes in states such as Florida and Texas, which are largely reopening businesses despite reporting thousands of cases per day.

Dr Fauci’s comments come following President Trump’s apparent desire to slow testing in order to slow the reporting of new cases.

Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday, the President remarked: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” the president said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • IMF expects global economic activity to decline by 5% in 2020, owing to the damage caused by large scale economic shut downs and the compromises that must be made by surviving businesses away from efficiency and in favour of heightened workplace safety and hygiene measures.
  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen on 4 July.The government and the industry hope that gyms can reopen in mid-July, subject to health guidance.
  • A sharp increase in cases in Latin America in the second half of May led the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the Americas were the new centre of the pandemic. But there have also been new spikes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Discover Supercomputer 3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr Creative Commons

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

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 2, 2020

Al-Aqsa Mosque Reopens After 2 Months of Lockdown

Jerusalems’s Al-Aqsa mosque has reopened to both worshipers and visitors after months of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Council of Islamic Waqf – who manage the Muslim sites on the holy Temple Mount complex – have said that due to a drastically slowed spread of the virus in its nearby vicinity, that the mosque can now reopen with adjustments made to how worshipers and visitors use it.

In order to reduce the risk of future spread at Islam’s third-holiest site, some of the precautionary measures that will be implemented include the compulsory use of face masks and bringing personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.

Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, is a highly important site for all Abrahamic religions.

Muslims revere the site, believing that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven there on a miraculous night journey. It is also the holiest site to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and believe it to be the location of two biblical temples. Resultingly, the ‘ownership’ and use of the site has been a central issue within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The UK’s bicycle industry says it has seen an “enormous” increase in the use and sale of bikes during the coronavirus lockdown, with some retailers reporting a 40% uplift in sales!
  • Officials and medical professionals have expressed concern that the widespread George Floyd protests in the USA will see a dramatic increase in new coronavirus cases.
  • Germany lifts travel restrictions to the UK and the USA as individual regions begin to unlock!
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened to tourists on May 30.
  • Greece and the Greek Islands (including Crete) are set to lift the 2-week quarantine requirements for foreign tourists on July 1 with a view to kick-starting the seasonal tourism which makes up around 18% of Greece’s GDP!
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

More information:

Must See Mosques of the World

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

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Bravo! New show “Ultimate Blitzkrieg” praised by Australian media

Bravo! New show "Ultimate Blitzkrieg" praised by Australian media

Following the broadcast of our new 3-part miniseries Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WWII Battle of Crete, the show has caught the attention of many, including both the Foxtel Insider team and Weekend Australian!

In their review of Ultimate Blitzkrieg, Foxtel Insider called the show both powerful and gripping, and describe Executive Producer Ian Cross’ fascination with the events of May 1941.

Our show also made an appearance in the Weekend Australian newspaper, who described the show as Riveting!

We are excited to announce that the Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete DVD is coming soon! To register your interest for the DVD please use this Contact Form!