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

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry
May 20, 2020

The 21st century has once again ushered a new age in travel.

First, the World Wide Web made the creation of travel websites sites so easy that phobic travellers had their own runway to competitive choice. This became an oasis of inexpensive air fares, that would fly you anywhere, anytime. Soon it became an electronic, paperless realm, with an app on your smartphone. You were checked in, and you just had to get  to the airport complete security, and take that flight.

Then, along came 9/11 and with it heightened security, which at the time was very intense but after 20 years the world has adjusted.

Now we have COVID-19. It’s created a new challenge that could last another 20 years. Thus begins a new chapter in the history of travel, to the dismay of phobic travellers everywhere.

Travel agents will now include special assistance as a new feature in their post COVID roles, especially for their corporate travellers. There will be a duty of care with in-depth guidance and check lists galore. This will make the reservation process lengthier.

The demand for travel will not be great initially. As confidence creeps back, air fares will be reshaped, and rise. The phobic traveller will now be worrying that travel will no longer be as affordable.

Airlines will use strategy when choosing their aircraft, and retire older models. They will replace them with a more modern and cost effect fleet. This will help them revitalise and kick start their new financial model.

It will be a tough struggle, but the tide will turn slowly.

The phobic traveller will be twitching and panicking, as the old way of travel becomes a distant memory.

A new era of post-COVID travel may see Airports ask travellers for immunity passports. Security checks will take place with much sanitation.

‘Manage My Booking’ tools may be rebranded to supply post-COVID, pre-flight additional guidance. We are certain that we will see the creation of travel assist COVID-apps which you can download on your smart phone, reducing the stress and worry in the new age of travel.

This will be great support for phobic travellers everywhere.

All airlines already introduced checked and unchecked bag fare types, and post-COVID travel may see a limitation on cabin bags.

Airfares will restructured for a host of reasons. Will we return to an age when only the rich could afford to travel extensively?

The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all non-essential travel. You can check border controls for all countries on the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

The UK Government has announced from next month arrivals in the UK will face a 14-day quarantine this will include returning British holiday makers, with a possible air bridge to exclude Australia and Greece where COVID has been low. This could be very traumatic for the phobic traveller.

Right now it is twilight zone – reality hasn’t quite sunk in. We we are in speculation mode.Are  you ready to take to a runway and travel again soon?

Stay tuned to more editions of Travel in the Covid Zone.

More information:

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

Study Guide: Epidemics Throughout The Ages

Read: Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Neda Dorudi for the Forensic Traveller

Main image: Departures Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, Andrew Milligan Sumo, Flickr Creative Commons

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

Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel
May 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and it’s temporary freeze on travel is proving to be an enormous worry for the world’s Phobic Travellers.

Never in the history of travel in the 20th and 21st centuries have we seen such a major decline in travel – thousands of aircraft parked without a destination to fly to. Not even during The Gulf War or 9/11 was there such a dip. It is fair to say that right now we have a frozen industry.

For many who have booked their summer vacations, and hope for a refund, there will be further disappointment, as cash strapped airlines and travel companies cling on to their cash reserves which are paramount to their very survival. Many will only refund by giving their customers vouchers for future travel.

The Phobic Travellers among us will experience very dark days, weeks and even possibly months ahead. The are many recurring questions: What if I don’t get my refund, or a voucher?;  What if my voucher expires before I can travel again?; When will it be safe to travel?

The truth is none of us know when travel will take off again. It may not be until the end of this year. For the Phobic Traveller, everything right now is a weight of worry. Will people regain their confidence to travel again?  

When movement is unlocked, the desire to see the world will hopefully overcome anxieties. But for the moment we can only escape from lockdown by dreaming of sandy beaches and sunny days ahead.

Feeling deflated? Watch Travelling in the 70’s for some good, old fashioned fun!

In one rather dystopian fell swoop, air fares will increase, security and health checks will morph into a 4 hour process and will become the new norm. Masks will be mandatory when flying and meals may no longer be offered.

On the upside, the rejection and subsequent reduction in this kind of travel could be great news for the environment. How many aircraft have you seen in a clean and clear sky recently? Greta Thunberg has recently called for a “new way forward” upon the end of the pandemic — is this what she has in mind?

Future forward decisions aside, budget airline Wizz Air has just started its operations again and we are certain many others will follow.

For airlines, it will be the survival of the strongest. Of the carriers who make it out the other side, how many will introspectively assess the vulnerabilities of their businesses? Global economic disasters always expose fragility, especially in cash-flow and supply chains.

However, for survivors, there will be ample opportunities for airlines to entice twitchy customers with imaginative deals to encourage them to book and fly away to to far away lands. To say the world deserves a holiday is a huge understatement! 

But for the Phobic Traveller the questions will multiply. Reassurance will be the key to close the door on nervous and worrying thoughts.

Stay tuned for more encouraging updates on the re-emergence of travel as we once knew.

More information:

Study Guide: Epidemics Throughout The Ages

Read: Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Neda Dorudi for The Forensic Traveller

Main image: Dublin Airport, Sean MacEntee, Flickr Creative Commons

Oktoberfest Becomes Latest Travel Industry Victim

Oktoberfest Becomes Latest Travel Industry Victim
April 22, 2020

The world-famous 210 year old Bavarian beer festival has been cancelled this year due to concerns over the continued spread of coronavirus.

It is the biggest annual tourist attraction in Germany, drawing 6 million global visitors a year, and employing some 13,000 staff.

Read: Oom-pah and Ale: The Oktoberfest Beer Festival

While some lockdown restrictions have been slightly relaxed in parts of the country this week, German authorities have banned all large events until at least August 31 in a bid to avoid a second wave of infections towards the end of the summer. Due to the nature of the event – festival goers are seated in very close proximity and the consumption of alcohol is thought to cause diminished regard for social distancing — the organisers had already indicated that the event might not go ahead.

Bavarian officials, have expressed regret that the businesses who take part in the festivities will lose out financially. It is reported that last year’s revenue amounted to around 1 billion euros.

The Oktoberfest started in 1810 on 12 October, as a celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, and was due to take place from 19 September to 4 October this year.

Read: Top 5 things to see and do in Munich

Meanwhile, in the UK, Home Sercretary Michael Gove has warned that the hospitality industry, most notably pubs and bars, will be of the last to see restrictions lifted levaing some businesses attempting to prepare for closures lasting until Christmas.

In the USA, of the states where lockdown rules are being relaxed, bars, nightclubs and restaurants will also be among the last businesses to see restrictions lifted.

More information:

Study Guide: A Short History Of Beer

Watch: The Story of Beer

Read: Wine Sales Are Booming

Read: Tips For Coping During Lockdown

 Main image: Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest, Polybert49, Flickr Creative Commons

Wine Sales Are Booming

Wine Sales Are Booming

Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.

One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.

Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.

However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.

The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.

Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.

With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!

More information:

Watch: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: France, Italy & Iberia

Download: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: The New World

Read: Châteauneuf du Pape Wine Festival

Read: Vinotherapy – the Glass of Wine Cure

Main image: Malbec Wines from Mendoza’s Vineyards, Pilot Productions

By Sofi Summers

Consumer Brands Save the Day Amid Hand Sanitiser Shortages

Consumer Brands Save the Day Amid Hand Sanitiser Shortages

As stocks of hand sanitiser gel begin to run dangerously low across the world amid the COVID-19 outbreak and spread, many alcohol producing companies and companies with denatured-alcohol licences and supplies of alcohol have pivoted their businesses to try to help close the gap – especially for health professionals and those most at risk. This mixture of small and large businesses show us all how lending a helping hand can make a huge difference.

Alcohol Brands

BrewDog

BrewDog is a beer and spirits manufacturer based in Ellon in Scotland, and have switched their production lines to produce alcohol hand-gel totally free of charge to ‘those who need it’ across local charities and the community. The first batch of hand sanitiser was delivered to Aberdeen hospital to help the hard working staff stay safe.

Punk Sanitiser by BrewDog

Punk Sanitiser by BrewDog

Psychopomp Microdistillery

Psychopomp is an artisan gin distillery based in Bristol, England, who have also begun to produce hand sanitiser gel to distribute among the community free-of-charge, but in exchange for a charitable donation to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

Warner’s Distillery

Warner’s Distillery in Northamptonshire usually prides themselves on saving the world from mediocre gin, but in light of the sanitiser shortages they have turned their production efforts to saving the world a little more generally.

Leith Spirits

Edinburgh based Leith Spirits have received much deserved praise in the press for their efforts. Having begun production of hand gel rather as opposed to their usual selection of gin, the company issued a plea on social media for plastic bottles to package the hand gel in order to keep production moving.

Pernot Ricard

Jameson Distillery, Sean O'Neill, Flickr Creative Commons

Jameson Distillery, Sean O’Neill, Flickr Creative Commons

Pernot Ricard, producers of drinks brands including Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey have put their Arkansas factory to good use by producing hand sanitiser instead of booze as the company reports a 20% hit to their operating profit due to the coronavirus. The French company hope to utilise some of their other USA factories to further increase their supply to help combat the empty shelves and dwindling hospital stores of hand sanitiser.

Diageo

Diageo, the makers of Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker Whiskies have pledged to produce enough denatured alcohol to make 8 million bottles of sanitiser, to be distributed among the front line staff treating coronavirus patients in the UK, Ireland, Italy, USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.

Cosmetics and Fragrance Brands

LVMH

Dior Midnight Charm, an LVMH perfume, Wesley Vieira Fonseca, Flickr Creative Commons

Dior Midnight Charm by LVMH, Wesley Vieira Fonseca, Flickr Creative Commons

Luxury fashion, cosmetics, fragrance and drinks conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) have turned their fragrance laboratories into hand-gel powerhouses, providing free-of-charge supplies of the sanitisers to overstretched hospitals. It has also been reported that the company has ordered 40 million face masks to distribute among the French health services, with the first 10 million masks paid for out of LVMH coffers, amounting to 5.4 million Euros. Bravo!

 

 

Pai Skincare

Our neighbours, West London based organic skincare brand Pai have launched their new ‘Acton Spirit’ Hand Sanitizer, named as such as the team believed that it summed up the amazing resilience and community spirit we have all seen here in West London. Pai sent out the initial batch to key-workers and is working on a second batch to make available for the public to purchase. For every tube purchased, Pai have pledged to provide key-workers and health professionals with one, too.

Pai's "Acton Spirit" hand sanitiser in makeshift packaging

Pai’s “Acton Spirit” hand sanitiser in makeshift packaging

BeYou

BeYou is a bit of an anomaly among this list, for its products mostly seek to provide women relief from period pain. BeYou impressively shifted their production to help beat the shortage of hand sanitisers within a week, and have been giving them away free with orders.

Ormonde Jayne

London-based luxury fragrance company Ormonde Jayne initially began manufacturing small amounts of hand gel to ensure the safety and hygiene of all of its staff members, and now they have begun distributing it among customers who purchase any of their delightful fragrances in-store or online.

More information:

Read: World’s Deadliest Plagues

Read: Where in the Wild has the Coronavirus Come From?

Worldometer: Live COVID-19 Updates

GOV.UK Guidance

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance

Australian Department of Health Guidance

Main image: The Old Jameson Distillery, Neil Turner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Where in the Wild has the Coronavirus Come From?

Where in the Wild has the Coronavirus Come From?

Following the outbreak of Coronavirus which is currently spreading from its source in Asia accross the world, scientists are trying to figure out where it has come from, and exactly how it transferred from the animal kingdom to humans.

So far, scientists have ascertained that the virus has been transmitted inter-species – or that is has ‘host jumped’ – from animals to humans, making it a ‘Zoonotic’ virus. Whilst widely reported that this likely came from a bat, it has not been confirmed. Bats are believed to be the original carrier of the former SARS virus and of many other ‘coronaviruses’ due to their particular animal behaviours, such as living in large colonies and covering large distance by flight.

Providing that the virus was originally carried by bats, scientists believe that it unlikely that its first human transmission arose out of direct contact with the notoriously tricky-to-catch mammals. Rather, it is understood that the bats may have transmitted the disease among other wild species more likely to be handled by humans.

Pangolin, Adam Tusk, Flickr Creative Commons

Pangolin, Adam Tusk, Flickr Creative Commons

In fact, it has been suggested by some that bats may have passed the virus on to pangolins, which are poached from the wild to be illegally trafficked to places where their scales and meat are either considered a delicacy, or a form of medicine. This black market trade is completely unregulated and so it would be difficult to trace the transaction where the transmission occurred. It is believed that of the many places that pangolins are trafficked to, Wuhan in China is one, and is also – perhaps coincidentally – where the virus first presented in humans.

Read: You’ve Probably Never Heard Of The World’s Most Trafficked Animal

Scientists are attempting to prove the truth of this scenario as they work to find wild animals carrying the virus but finding the sequence of events is “a bit of a detective story”, according to Prof Andrew Cunningham of Zoological Society London (ZSL).

More information:

Read: Midnight Remedy: Bat Soup

World Health Organisation: Travel Advice


Main Image: Ground Pangolin at Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, David Brossard, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers