The rapidly spreading Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As the virus advances to all countries and the number of cases & deaths climb, the governments worldwide are fighting to curb the growth of this infectious disease. The authorities are imposing:
- Travel ban and restrictions to other countries
- Shelter-in-home, stay home, and no gatherings orders
- Local or national lock-down
The effect of this sweeping phenomenon on the world economy including the medical tourism industry could be enormous. Medical tourists, Americans or Canadians, may wonder whether it is still safe to travel to Mexico for weight loss surgery, cosmetic surgery, dentistry, cancer, orthopedic, or any other procedure.
In the month of March 2020, about 85% of patients were forced to cancel their trips to receive treatment; with at least 50% cancellations on the horizon through Q3, 2020.
In this comprehensive guide, we will be discussing all aspects of Coronavirus and its influence on medical trips overseas.
About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronavirus Count worldometers.info
Novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 causes a viral respiratory illness that was first originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. SARS-CoV-2 has spread to over 81 countries with clusters in China, Spain, Iran, Italy, Germany, United States, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, and in severe cases pneumonia.
The most vulnerable to this flu-like sickness are elderly with reduced immunity and individuals with underlying health problems, such as morbid obesity, diabetes, and High Blood Pressure. COVID-19 can be particularly deadly for individuals with obesity-associated comorbidities as they are getting hit the hardest.
The mortality rate of COVID-19 is estimated at 3.4% according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated about 80% of people who get infected “do well” and recover without needing any medical care.
The anxiety regarding Coronavirus is the fact that it is not fully understood and treatments are not yet available. As of today, the apex of COVID-19 pandemic has not reached and the only remedy is practicing good hygiene, self-isolation, social-distancing, and quarantine. Over the next few months, we will understand what we can and can’t do to intervene, including vaccination.
Notable Statistics of Global Epidemics
Worldwide Epidemics – COVID-19, Viruses & Obesity Statistics (May 2020)
Here are some statistics to compare COVID-19 with SARS, MERS, Ebola, Obesity, etc.
- Influenza outbreak (Flu Season) in 2017 had 60,000 deaths in the U.S. and half a million deaths globally.
- Coronavirus counts: There are over 765,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide with over 37,000 people dying, and about 161,000 recovered from it so far (March 30, 2020).
- In one year, an estimated 3,000,000 people died from being overweight or obese.
As it appears in the statistics, obesity and its related health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and cancers, are still more deadly than coronavirus. The average medical cost of obesity is around 100,000 USD per person and it could leave you financially broke!
COVID 19 cases in the US
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
Like any type of flu or virus, Coronavirus spreads from human to human or animal to human through respiratory droplets. Sneezing and coughing are the main forms of transmittal for this disease. COVID-19 is generally transmitted by asymptomatic carriers who have none of the typical symptoms and are unconsciously spreading it to others. To be exposed, you have to be within a 6 feet proximity from the person who harbored the pathogen.
Coronavirus, also called “Bioweapon,” has secret ammunition called a super-spreader. Super spreader works a bit differently from a typical infection spreader. A super-spreader catches the infection much like a normal carrier but spreads it to an average of 8 people as opposed to an average of 2.6 people.
Coronavirus survives in the air for 3 hours, on copper for 4 hours, on cardboard for 24 hours. The virus lives on some surfaces like plastic as well as stainless steel for 3 days. The infection stays in the body for up to 2 weeks before showing symptoms.
Patients cross national borders to receive elective or urgent healthcare services not available or affordable at home. Global healthcare destinations, like Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore, South Korea, Costa Rica, and Iran attract thousands of individuals to receive medical services like bariatrics, plastics, dental, fertility care, orthopedics, cancer, stem cell, and heart surgery.
Medical travelers can save anywhere from 2o% to 80% on treatments in countries like Mexico with 40% to 65% savings.
Destination surgery travelers need to outweigh the risks of not undergoing necessary medical procedures with the risks of contracting any illness. Medical tourists need to make sure they are not going to substandard facilities without sufficient infrastructure and protocols in place to be proactive in combating harmful pathogens. Clinical accreditation is crucial in reducing the risk activities by establishing infection control of viruses like Coronavirus.
Coronavirus Impact on Medical Tourism
Increased globalization affects tourists who are planning to travel for medical treatments. That is why patients must be very vigilant and prepared to avoid contagious diseases. The Coronavirus has created a virus fears and restrictions on patients crossing the borders.
Short term impact of COVID-19 on medical travel is imminent for some countries like Thailand and China. The long term effect on medical tourism is unknown and depends on levels of spread and severity, as well as the levels of reaction, complacency, and inaction. Tourism, in general, is expected to get hit hard and medical tourism is expected to suffer the hardest.
A global collaboration of scientists is creating a path to a speedy human intervention to contain outbreaks with vaccines and antiviral medications. Environmental factors such as heat and humidity in the summer months can also help alleviate the novel Coronavirus. Another scenario is that it will mutate at a rate that makes it harder to infect people.
Things to Consider Before You Travel
There have been broader efforts in terms of preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 including travel bans and lockdowns. The United States, for example, imposed restrictions on people coming from China.
- Check with the CDC, WHO, any other national regulatory bodies for travel advisory, ban, etc.
- Check the accreditation of the facility you are considering to go with as well as their infection control policies.
Travel Restrictions to Mexico
The U.S. Department of State advises citizens to avoid all international travel. President Donald Trump suspended all travel from Europe to the United States.
Mexico is one of the least impacted countries as far as the Coronavirus is concerned. Mexico is ranked about the 60th Thus far, only four cases of Coronavirus have been reported within Mexico – all of the four cases traveled to Italy.
In Baja California, there have not been any cases reported of Coronavirus. Currently, the United States of America will not close the border to Mexico, however, restricts it to non-essential travels.