Worldwide Travel Is Finally Back This Summer. Here’s Where You Absolutely Shouldn’t Go Right Now To Avoid The Pandemic
After more than a year of global lock downs, there’s finally some good news on the international travel front.
More encouragingly, summer 2021 looks like it might resemble something akin to 2019 for the first time in two years, with movie theaters, amusement parks, nightclubs, boardwalks, beaches, bars, restaurants, and concerts all looking to re-open over the next few months in virtually every state across the U.S. (albeit subject to local restrictions, social distancing, and occupancy requirements).
Internationally, dozens of other countries including France and Greece gradually are opening back up to global travelers as well with “special passes” and requirements for proof of vaccination that will eliminate the need for visitors to quarantine and waste valuable vacation time holed up in their hotels (I won’t call these “COVID passports” just yet, but it looks like they’re coming).
When you think back to what the world looked like a year ago, it’s astounding how fast we’ve been able to turn the corner back to something close to normal only twelve months into a crippling global pandemic — notwithstanding the often rancorous, politically discordant, and in many instances inefficient ways in which that’s happened not only domestically but also globally.
Against this backdrop of a largely successful international vaccination campaign so far as well as a relatively strong global economic recovery, however, several countries are still struggling with massive second and third coronavirus waves, setting records for new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, and straining healthcare systems which lack sufficient intensive care beds, oxygen, and basic PPE.
Here’s the current breakdown by the numbers on the countries and regions that you should specifically avoid right now so that you can plan your first international trip safely and wisely when the timing is right for you.
India — You’d have to live in a cave right now not to know that India has been experiencing the world’s worst COVID-19 surge of any country since the pandemic began. Earlier today the U.S. State Department advised all U.S. citizens to leave India “as soon as it is safe to do”, further noting that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now.”
Yesterday, India reported more than 300,000 new infections for a record seventh straight day in addition to 3,293 new deaths — pushing the country past 200,000 total fatalities — with no end to the second wave in sight. At the same time, almost every independent public health expert agrees that India’s total active reported cases and deaths are being wildly undercounted, which means that new strains of the virus are spreading further and faster than anyone actually knows with longer, more desperate consequences.
As a result, India is in a state of disjointed lock downs depending on the region. The Maharashtra government, for instance, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai, on Thursday extended restrictions that were already in place to May 15 “to break the chain of transmission effectively.” This falls on the heels of a recent six-day lock down in the Indian capital of New Dehli, which forced the recent cancellation of a high-profile diplomatic mission by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Brazil — For the past two months, South America’s largest and richest country has been the world’s poster child for the devastation a COVID-19 second wave can wreak. This week, Brazil is the odds on favorite to become the world’s second country to record more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, second only to the U.S. And daily new infections and deaths due to surging variants show little sign of slowing down as a result of loosening social restrictions around the country and a far from efficient national vaccine roll out.
As a result, despite various phases of lock downs recently in some of Brazil’s major cities, conditions aren’t improving fast enough to make travel sufficiently safe according to most experts and more specifically the U.S. State Department — which last week issued an unequivocal “Do Not Travel” advisory for the country due to the pandemic as well as systemic and persistent crime.
Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, is reportedly also on the verge of a hospital collapse, as oxygen, intubation equipment, and critical medications run out. New COVID-19 variants spreading rapidly are only making a dangerous public health crisis worse. “Collapse is imminent,” São Paulo Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn wrote in a recent statement.
Last week, American Airlines, one of the largest international carriers in and out of the country, also announced widespread cuts to routes in and out of Brazil’s major airports globally due to plummeting demand for travel and fears of exacerbating a regionalized outbreak that could take months to slow down.
Argentina — In that same April 20th, 2021 Travel Advisory the U.S. State Department also put a clear “Do Not Travel” fence around Argentina due to COVID-19. This was recently followed by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Argentina due to high COVID-19 infection rates.
Total deaths from coronavirus recently hit 60,000 amid a sharp second wave that has forced Argentina to re-impose some lockdown measures, while daily record highs for new cases and death are now the country’ new normal. That means Argentina’s second surge impacts are far from over. Last week, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti said publicly that the country’s healthcare system was on the brink of collapse, particular in larger cities like the capital Buenos Aires, which in turn has forced widespread lock downs including curfews and closing down nightclubs, bars, gyms, and beach clubs in localized hotspots. It also didn’t help the outward messaging recently when Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez, got the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine as a “role model” and then just tested positive for the coronavirus two months later.
Ultimately, the bigger concern for South America at this point is whether the current surges in Brazil and Argentina could spark a more regional outbreak. Wedged in and around these two countries are Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru — none of whose hospital systems are prepared for another capacity crisis and whose economies still also are recovering fragily from the first global shut down.
Turkey — Due to surging COVID-19 cases and strains on the country’s hospitals and intensive care bed capacity, this week Turkey announced additional restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus, effectively resulting in the country’s first national lock down, including a full-time curfew applying to all citizens and businesses starting today and running three weeks through May 17th and the rest of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan (tourists are technically excluded). The U.S. State Department has also maintained its “Do Not Travel” advisory for Turkey due to COVID-19 infections as well as the risk of terrorism and arbitrary, unlawful detentions.
Yesterday, Turkey recorded 37,674 new COVID-19 cases along with 339 deaths, bringing the country’s total case count since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,788,700 and total deaths to 39,737, according to the National Health Ministry. Those might seem like small numbers on face value compared to the U.S. or India. But with a population of only 82 million people particularly concentrated around crowded cities like Ankara and Istanbul, which is also where most tourists and travelers congregate, the percentages quickly fall into focus.
Making things more difficult is also a surge in dangerous, highly transmissive COVID-19 variants, which in turn is challenging Turkey’s vaccine rollout out. Currently, scientists have identified 5 cases of the Indian variant in Istanbul alone on top of the B.1.1.7 variant, which continues to spread most quickly throughout the country and it’s more vulnerable populations.
Poland — Not far away, Poland is additionally topping on the posterior of one of Europe’s most forceful third pandemic waves. Following quite a while of awkward limitations, the country that was the subsequent most noticeably awful spot during the pandemic to live as indicated by Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking is at last looking to possibly re-open, including inns, shopping centers, cafés, bars, and schools.
Poland as of late facilitated a large number of its public social affair limitations too since the nation at long last gave indications of decreasing after its latest flood. “We need our economy to return to routineness quickly,” Poland’s President Morawiecki as of late told a news meeting close by his Health Minister, Adam Niedzielski. “The latest information recommend that the third wave has subsided and we have purposes behind wary positive thinking.”
Not every person is so certain, notwithstanding, including the CDC and U.S. State Department which actually have Poland on “Don’t Travel” status. In the course of recent days, Poland additionally has had the world’s seventh most elevated loss of life per million occupants (87), which recommends that the nation’s third wave may in any case have some energy to run before it’s protected to go there in spite of what the nearby lawmakers need you to think two months before summer the travel industry season.
Thailand — After being hailed for its initial effective pandemic reaction, Thailand has been logging record high COVID-19 cases for right around fourteen days now straight, running the expectations of notable scams like Phuket for a quick summer the travel industry recuperation during the season numerous retreats, lodgings, bars, and dance club book a greater part of their yearly income. This incorporates a fourteen day conclusion of schools, bars, exercise centers, recreational areas, rub parlors, and different foundations, alongside limits on open and private social events. Adjoining Laos, which generally sidestepped the Covid during the main episode a year ago, additionally has recently reported a cross country fourteen day lock down to put a speedy top on an inward flood and the potential for a more territorial flare-up.
As indicated by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, 1,871 new COVID-19 cases and 10 Covid related passing’s were accounted for yesterday. The nation currently has 27,988 all out dynamic COVID-19 cases, with most contaminations identified with diversion settings and the travel industry. To help contain the subsequent flood, Thailand’s administration presently is quickly assembling field clinics to detach contaminated patients while organizing those with asymptomatic conditions to isolate in void lodgings.
For anybody searching for about fourteen days on a Thai sea shore this late spring, it very well may merit glancing in Greece or Croatia.