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Updated: Coronavirus and the Traveling Angler

March 15, 2020

Update from Yellow Dog Flyfishing Director of Operations, Jim Klug

(Updated Content: March 12, 2020)

The Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak continues to dominate headlines this week. It is upending the travel industry, rattling international markets and creating questions for those that travel to exotic destinations on a regular basis. While no one knows exactly how or when things will shake out with regard to the virus, we are starting to better understand the realities of the situation, and while serious, we also realize these are fast-changing times. We are staying informed of all of the most recent developments.

The illness – and the non-stop media coverage associated with the recent outbreaks here in the US – has certainly led to an increase in the number of calls we are getting from traveling anglers concerned about their upcoming international trips.

With the non-stop media coverage, we thought it might be helpful to address some of the common concerns and questions relating to Covid-19, hygiene and general travel safety for the destination angler and those who love fishing in far-off places.

First off, if you are a traveler, there are a number of valuable resources available for anyone planning to journey abroad in the near future. And no … we are not talking about Fox News or CNN. The reality is that there are much better starting points when it comes to legitimate coronavirus news.

  • The website of the W.H.O. (World Health Organization) has been issuing daily updates about Covid-19 and the status of developing cases since the disease first became public in January.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as the C.D.C.) is another great resource, offering information and guides for travelers. It is worth mentioning that the C.D.C. has advised Americans to cancel all non-essential travel to China, and they’ve specifically called out cruise ships operating in the region.
  • In addition to the W.H.O. and the C.D.C., Global Rescue has a daily update on what policies have been put in place in various destination countries throughout the world – something that may be useful for anglers traveling to specific destinations. If you are a Global Rescue member, you can receive a daily update and worldwide status report via email.

There are also several articles and videos that have recently come out that we have found to be VERY helpful in processing and better understanding the existing situation. If you have a moment, we encourage you to visit the following links:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-facts-about-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/

https://heated.medium.com/theres-an-epidemic-that-s-a-bigger-threat-than-the-coronavirus-ce6e0697185b

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/202002/the-coronavirus-is-much-worse-you-think

As a company that specializes in world-wide travel and fishing the world, we can assure you that Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures is paying VERY close attention to this situation, and we are thoroughly monitoring news and updates from the C.D.C., the W.H.O., and from various countries throughout the world. And while we are quick to point out that we are NOT medical experts trained in the field of infectious diseases, we nonetheless have a few thoughts, notes and useful suggestions regarding the ongoing situation and how it can – and should – impact destination travel for the near future.

  • The coronavirus is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface when viewed under a microscope. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, causing a range of respiratory illnesses – from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
  • At the present time, the only fishing-specific destinations that have been directly affected are Christmas Island and Mongolia. For Christmas Island, they have effectively closed the entire atoll to outside visitors until at least late March, which means that alternate plans will have to be made for the immediate future. With regard to Mongolia, there may be an issue with early season (summer 2020) trips that include air travel through Beijing or Seoul, South Korea. At the present time, we are recommending that anglers instead book travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia through Istanbul on Turkish Air.
  • With regard to how contagious the virus actually is, preliminary research seems to prove that it is moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. While it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus, some scientists have said that this new coronavirus appeared to be less severe than SARS or MERS.
  • For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from Covid-19 is still considered low.
  • While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside of China and certain areas in Italy, Iran and Korea remains low, with the seasonal flu continuing to represent a much more immediate threat. (This is why you should absolutely have your flu shot!) The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
  • Whether you’re staying close to home or headed around the world on a trip, give extra attention to doing the things that everyone should always do. Hand washing with soap and water on a regular basis is important – especially after touching surfaces or coming in contact with someone who has been coughing. Get serious about the little things that make a big difference: washing hands, covering coughs and, if you’re sick, staying home.
  • Some people are asking if a mask is sufficient to protect you on an airplane. Probably not. The W.H.O. says that if you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you’re taking care of someone with a suspected coronavirus infection. The organization also suggests wearing the mask if you are the person sneezing or coughing. Remember that masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Experts agree that children and young people seem much less likely to develop severe illnesses than older people and individuals who have underlying health problems such as Type 2 diabetes. It is important to remember that Covid-19 seems to be much more serious for those with existing health complications, respiratory ailments and pre-existing conditions.
  • To put things in perspective, between 60,000 and 80,000 Americans died of flu and flu-related complications last winter. Globally, influenza kills somewhere between 300,000 and 600,000 people on an annual basis. We don’t shut schools every year for seasonal influenza, and we didn’t shut them for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, for good reason: The severity level didn’t merit it. Likewise, we still travel on planes and take trips in spite of flu season.
  • The United States and several other countries are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China, and new screening protocols have been announced for travelers coming from Italy, Korea and Iran. These measures are changing on a regular and continual basis.
  • If you have a destination trip booked for the coming summer or fall months, we would simply recommend that you stay calm and see how things develop in the months ahead before changing any plans or trip dates. While it is too early to say if warmer weather will slow or stop the coronavirus outbreak (the virus has not been around long enough for scientists to collect the evidence they need to determine this) many experts do expect that the disease will decline substantially during the warmer summer months.

This is obviously a rapidly-developing situation, and there are ongoing and studies and investigations to learn more about Covid-19. And while the information contained in this document may be out-of-date in short order, Yellow Dog will certainly continue to monitor circumstances as they relate to travel and destination angling, and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Remember to be smart, wash your hands, and keep things in perspective! Oh … and think twice before booking an Asian cruise any time soon. It’s much safer to fish in the tropics or the wilds of Alaska.

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