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Published on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

WTTC chief: 'Extreme' travel bans only add to coronavirus panic






Governments worldwide have been urged not to overact to the spread of the coronavirus.


Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council said closing borders and imposing blanket travel bans wasn't the answer.


Guevara, Mexico's former tourism minister, said she has first-hand experience of containing a major viral incident after dealing with the H1N1 influenza virus in her home country.


She said: "Governments and those in authority must not seek to choke travel and trade at this time. Closing borders, imposing blanket travel bans and implementing extreme policies are not the answer to stopping the spread of coronavirus.


"Past experience shows that taking such extreme action has been ineffective at best. We urge governments to explore fact-based measures which don't affect the vast majority of people and businesses for whom travel is essential."


Analysis by the WTTC shows that 33 countries, 16% of the total number worldwide, have reported cases of coronavirus, now known as Covid-19.


"The vast majority of patients affected by the virus have also fully recovered. Covid-19 has a lower mortality rate than previous viral outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012," said WTTC in a statement.


"Millions of people are continuing to travel throughout the world on a daily basis, whether taking flights, cruises, rail journeys or driving. Each month, based on 2018 figures, an estimated average of 2.3 million people take a cruise with very few incidents."


Guevara added: "One death is one too many from any virus but now is not the time to panic. We understand there is huge concern about Covid-19. However, it's important to remember that fatality rates remain very low and the chances of contracting the virus, for the vast majority of people, are very remote if they travel responsibly and observe simple hygiene measures."

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