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Corona virus threat to birding

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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 02:17   #1
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Corona virus threat to birding

The current nCoV outbreak is still not contained and appears to be especially contagious.
The CDC recommendation is to avoid crowds and close contacts, which makes travel a choice that must be weighted.
How are birders reacting to this development? Tourism, which includes birders, is a massive economic force in many communities, with birders more attracted to the less developed and poorer areas, where conservation efforts are focused.
Are these efforts now at risk?
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 06:43   #2
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I think we are all just watching and waiting to see how things develop. Unfortunately, this contagion seems to have more staying power than past outbreaks like SARS, MERS, etc. I imagine it has the potential to wreak havoc with the schedules of birding tour companies, though it hasn't become an issue in any tropical area yet where most of the tours go. I'm currently planning to travel to Australasia in July, but this has definitely added an unwelcome element of uncertainty to my plans since I have no idea what the situation will be by then. I'm also wondering whether this will be seasonal like the flu, with the outbreak subsiding when warmer weather arrives in temperate parts of the globe. I guess the only silver lining is that the death rate is relatively low and the symptoms aren't as frightening as something like ebola.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 07:18   #3
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At this point I decided to postpone any planning for trips, mainly because of the chaos caused by containment efforts. I really don't want to be caught up in cancelled flights or a two week quarantine somewhere. According to many experts, this is ultimately not going to be contained due to the sheer amount of asymptomatic people who are still contagious. When it becomes a common virus, hopefully travel will come back to normal as there will be no point in blocking movement, if the virus is everywhere.

What happens next depends on several things, mainly on how widespread the virus is going to be, how lasting the immunity after having it once is (which is unknown at this point) .and what kind of havoc it will wreak on medical systems. To put it bluntly: if everyone gets it, a lot of people will sadly die, but if the survivors are moreorless immune, it stops being a threat. If the spread is slow, especially if it gets delayed by summer, I can imagine people not being willing to get exposed and travel (outside of riding your own car) is a huge risk for that so it may have profound effects on it.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 11:27   #4
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I would guess any birding tours to asia right now have a high chance of getting cancelled.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 11:29   #5
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Just any air travel for vacation is iffy now. We have a wedding to go to (Europe) in early July and still have not booked the tickets, one reason is just this travel mess.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 12:32   #6
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Over-reaction imo.
I'm in Thailand at the moment & lots of people are wearing masks - though the are close to zero infections here.
And it's not particularly lethal - unless you're already near death's door.
OK, it needs containing, but the Chinese are doing a good, if a little late, job on that front.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 13:10   #7
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It cannot be contained, for the reasons Opisska mentioned.
An interesting read:
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...accine/607000/
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 13:42   #8
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It is probably evolving steadily to be less lethal, too - the strains that cause minimal symptoms are the ones most likely to escape notice and get passed on. People with more severe strains are more likely to be noticed, and put in isolation before they pass it on to many others.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 13:55   #9
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The viruses tend to either live high up in your respiratory system, and be easily transmitted; or live deeper in your lungs and be less easily transmitted, but more likely to kill you.
Not sure where this one sits, or how it is evolving. Doesn't help with planning birding trips, but makes them slightly less scary.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 14:32   #10
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Over-reaction imo.
I'm in Thailand at the moment & lots of people are wearing masks - though the are close to zero infections here.
And it's not particularly lethal - unless you're already near death's door.
OK, it needs containing, but the Chinese are doing a good, if a little late, job on that front.
If this gets into free circulation while keeping it's current lethality, it will be a major cause of death even for young healthy people. It has about 0.4 percent in my (30-40) age group, which is way above any other common disease and this will get common as hell if it gets into the wild, especially thanks to the silent infectious period.

I agree that at the moment a risk to any single of us is minimal, however this might not be so forever. In any case the risk of getting caught in the mess is quite high. The idea of being in the middle of a panicy containment in a foreign area is scary to me. Yes, the containment efforts may prove futile, but they will keep happening at least for a few weeks from now.

If it ever gets endemic, there will be also the interesting question of "how do I know I don't have it" and "do I want to travel into wilderness - or a country with weak healthcare - not knowing whether I am gonna need urgent care in two weeks?" This looks far away now, but there is a chance that the times of freely wandering the planet may be over, which would be quite the shame, considering I only had money yo do so in the last few years ...
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 14:35   #11
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It is probably evolving steadily to be less lethal, too - the strains that cause minimal symptoms are the ones most likely to escape notice and get passed on. People with more severe strains are more likely to be noticed, and put in isolation before they pass it on to many others.

This is indeed the case for many viruses, however the mighty SARS itself reportedly did not do that - which was the reason why it did not take off actually. It had some kind of proofreading mechanism limiting mutations. This thing shares a large proportion of genome with SARS, so ... But this is, afaik, simply not known at this moment as studying viruses is notoriously difficult.
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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 15:33   #12
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Looks like “stay-cation” might be the name of the game for the time being?
If you haven’t already....determine a “my patch” area and bird it as often as you can, comparing species status on a daily basis (if you can), avoid public transport, leave the car at home...get on ye’r bike and discover “graft” birding, I’ve never looked back. .....that'll be between flights of course.

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Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 23:45   #13
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It cannot be contained, for the reasons Opisska mentioned.
An interesting read:
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...accine/607000/
One thing that made a lot of sense in that article:

"Certain containment measures will be appropriate, but widely banning travel, closing down cities, and hoarding resources are not realistic solutions for an outbreak that lasts years."
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Old Saturday 29th February 2020, 18:45   #14
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Here's an unexpected upside to the virus.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51691967
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Old Saturday 29th February 2020, 19:11   #15
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I saw that Andy - I wonder how many people are damaged by atmospheric pollution every year compared to this type of outbreak which gets all the headlines !!!
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Old Sunday 1st March 2020, 15:59   #16
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Over-reaction imo.
Completely agree - yes we're probably going to have the equivalent of a very bad flu season, but even that isn't guaranteed.

I'm in Singapore which had some of the earliest community based spread of the virus (and the gov doing a great job of containing without the drastic measures of China). A few weeks ago I was in Java and over the next 6 weeks I'll be in Thailand and Malaysia for a few days each time for personal rather than birding reasons (although of course I'll be looking at birds constantly irrespective of the habitat I happen to be in).

My big birding trip for the year will be a month in Ecuador (flying via Germany) from late May so I hope countries just start accepting this is going to spread everywhere and unless you are symptomatic allow flying. I guess this makes my concerns opposite to all other posters i.e. I don't want to be stopped leaving Asia or transiting in Europe!
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Old Monday 2nd March 2020, 18:46   #17
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I’m quite worried as when I go birdwatching regularly with my local RSPB Group with quite a number of members and having diabetes type 2 and I’m 67 and turning 68 in May and diabetes has been mentioned on TV News and elsewhere by medical professionals, about those suffering from diabetes could be of high risk. I’m due to go on my groups annual UK birdwatching holiday in May, but depending if the situation deteriorates I might have to reconsider going on that holiday and staying in a hotel. Although I would lose money paying for that holiday and that I’ve been looking forward to, my situation with having diabetes and how it might affect me personally, is more important than a holiday.
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Old Monday 2nd March 2020, 19:13   #18
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I’m quite worried as when I go birdwatching regularly with my local RSPB Group with quite a number of members and having diabetes type 2 and I’m 67 and turning 68 in May and diabetes has been mentioned on TV News and elsewhere by medical professionals, about those suffering from diabetes could be of high risk. I’m due to go on my groups annual UK birdwatching holiday in May, but depending if the situation deteriorates I might have to reconsider going on that holiday and staying in a hotel. Although I would lose money paying for that holiday and that I’ve been looking forward to, my situation with having diabetes and how it might affect me personally, is more important than a holiday.
I suspect the situation may have deteriorated and improved by then, but who knows.

What I have heard on the news today, it sounds like it is relatively easy to avoid contracting, as long as you wash your hands thoroughly and regularly etc., don't touch your mouth or eyes, and don't sit opposite someone sneezing in your face for 10 minutes.
How that translates in practise I have no idea. You only have to be unlucky once and you have it. Door handles, and buttons on lifts and doors are very difficult to avoid, and I suspect account for a lot of bugs spreading in built up areas. Mobile phones are probably so covered in germs we would throw them in the nearest bin if we knew.

But I am someone who goes into London for work once a month and gets a cold/cough/sore throat a couple of days after my visit pretty much every time (visited London last week, I am getting over a cold today!). So I see a certain likelihood of catching anything like this. It's difficult to keep your guard up all the time.
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Old Monday 2nd March 2020, 22:44   #19
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What I have heard on the news today, it sounds like it is relatively easy to avoid contracting, as long as you wash your hands thoroughly and regularly etc., don't touch your mouth or eyes, and don't sit opposite someone sneezing in your face for 10 minutes.
How that translates in practise I have no idea. You only have to be unlucky once and you have it. Door handles, and buttons on lifts and doors are very difficult to avoid, and I suspect account for a lot of bugs spreading in built up areas. Mobile phones are probably so covered in germs we would throw them in the nearest bin if we knew.
The two items I fear are most likely to spread it are shopping trolley handles, and handholds on buses (& trains) - almost impossible to avoid them. Also when buying, don't spend more than £30 at a go on your card, so you can use contactless payments without having to touch the PIN keypad. Plastic £ notes - not sure how much of a risk they are, but probably less than shopping trolleys. I've taken to wearing a pair of thin gloves while shopping in the hope that it'll make using trolleys a little less risky.

Mobile phones probably aren't too bad, they're very smooth so don't hold contamination so well, and of course it's all your own germs, not other peoples' (and no, the virus can't be transmitted by phone ).
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 12:31   #20
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Originally Posted by IAN JAMES THOMPSON View Post
I’m quite worried as when I go birdwatching regularly with my local RSPB Group with quite a number of members and having diabetes type 2 and I’m 67 and turning 68 in May and diabetes has been mentioned on TV News and elsewhere by medical professionals, about those suffering from diabetes could be of high risk. I’m due to go on my groups annual UK birdwatching holiday in May, but depending if the situation deteriorates I might have to reconsider going on that holiday and staying in a hotel. Although I would lose money paying for that holiday and that I’ve been looking forward to, my situation with having diabetes and how it might affect me personally, is more important than a holiday.
I wouldn't cancel a local RSPB group outing over this, unless your country is in the midst of a really bad outbreak resulting in quarantine or whatever. A small group of birders has to be a less infectious situation than practically any sort of public venue you probably visit during the week. Just wash your hands a lot and carry on.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 13:39   #21
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Let's put this in perspective. There are about 8800 cases outside of China, and 81% of those are in Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy. That leaves 1672 in other countries. And most of those are scattered in miscellaneous countries, not concentrated. What's the population of Europe these days?

Or putting it less snarkily, in most places the incidence is tiny relative to the population, and highly localized. For example, here in the US, most of the cases are associated with a nursing home in Washington State.

For me, I'm not so much concerned about the disease (and I'm almost 60). But I'm concerned about the disruptions due to over-reactions.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 13:56   #22
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Let's put this in perspective. There are about 8800 cases outside of China, and 81% of those are in Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy. That leaves 1672 in other countries. And most of those are scattered in miscellaneous countries, not concentrated. What's the population of Europe these days?

Or putting it less snarkily, in most places the incidence is tiny relative to the population, and highly localized. For example, here in the US, most of the cases are associated with a nursing home in Washington State.

For me, I'm not so much concerned about the disease (and I'm almost 60). But I'm concerned about the disruptions due to over-reactions.
It's easy to get over-excited indeed. Over-reaction includes panic buying eg Australia and elsewhere.

It is early days - but numbers in Germany, Spain and France over 100 each for example, with an upward curve.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 13:58   #23
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To help contribute to the panic -

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 14:03   #24
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Let's put this in perspective. There are about 8800 cases outside of China, and 81% of those are in Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy. That leaves 1672 in other countries. And most of those are scattered in miscellaneous countries, not concentrated. What's the population of Europe these days?

Or putting it less snarkily, in most places the incidence is tiny relative to the population, and highly localized. For example, here in the US, most of the cases are associated with a nursing home in Washington State.

For me, I'm not so much concerned about the disease (and I'm almost 60). But I'm concerned about the disruptions due to over-reactions.
Of course, caution should be in place - just in case things get really bad....BUT, doing a little simple arithmetic reveals that worldwide, 1 in 2,700,000 people have sadly died from this virus.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 15:11   #25
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It would appear from this that it really takes off about three weeks after a new outbreak

https://youtu.be/6dDD2tHWWnU


P.S. Already out of date - only goes up to Feb 10th

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