Should we cancel our trip abroad because of the corona frenzy?

Last month, I ran into my longtime acquaintance, Nancy*, at the health club. She mentioned that in late March of 2020, her husband (who is, for your information, a medical scientist and university professor), will be attending a medically related convention in Australia. She said that they are very excited and looking forward to making use of this once-in-lifetime opportunity to combine a vacation with work travel.

While working out on two adjacent gym machines, we traded some thoughts about the bushfires on the southeast coast of Australia. We both agreed that the month of March is indeed an ideal time for their trip, as the Australian annual fire season should be over by then.

Yesterday, I ran into Nancy again and our conversation ensued as displayed below.

Dr. E: Hello! I see Australians are at the club today, your dream vacation must be imminent now!

Nancy: Actually, much has happened since we chatted last time. We are considering cancelling our trip because of the coronavirus situation.

Dr. E: Is the convention cancelled? Do they stop all flights to Australia? Is there some sort of travel bans?

Nancy: No! We are thinking to cancel our plans as a corona precaution!

Dr. E: I have known you and your husband for almost 25 years. You guys have always impressed me as a very healthy couple. I personally don’t believe that you should worry much about the coronavirus. Even if you are exposed to the bug, the worst-case scenario for you guys would be getting mild common cold like symptoms. 

Nancy: Your optimism is so encouraging! 

Dr. E: Look at it positively! Catching Covid-19 may be a training experience for your immune systems! If you catch it now, you will most likely learn how to brush it off more easily later! 

Nancy: We have been debating to take our chances at it!

Dr. E: I trust that you guys know how to minimize your odds for contracting the virus. I’m also confident that you know the drill for minimizing your exposure.

Nancy: What is the drill?

Dr. E: Optimal ventilation, social distancing, and following basic hygienic precautions such as handwashing or avoidance from touching your mouth or eyes with your hands.

Nancy: That’s what we’ve been banking on! 

Dr. E: Times like this are the best opportunity for savvy health conscious people like you to showcase the might of your immune systems! Look at it positively; many people may cancel out their flights and you guys may get several empty seats next to you to stretch out your legs throughout your long flight to Australia!

Extra legroom on long flights is lovely!

 Nancy: We didn’t think of it this way! The way that you put it makes it so tempting! 

Dr. E: Guess what’s the worst-case scenario for you? It’s coming down with flulike symptoms either there or upon you return! If there, it gives you additional free days of stay in Australia! If you break your symptoms upon returning, the chances are that you may be forced to voluntarily stay at home. 

Nancy: Actually, I work from home and Paul also does much of his work from home these days. So, we both don’t mind it at all! 

Dr. E: That’s perfect! As long as there is no global pandemic of hysteria to make people and governments panicking crazily, I suggest that you don’t even think about changing your trip plans! Australia will welcome you for your visit. They have just suffered a big hit in tourism due to their widespread summer fires, and now corona is threatening their tourism! I must also say that the airline that you purchased your ticket from them will also appreciate your patronage. Did you say you will fly with Qantas?

Nancy: No! We are Michiganders and we almost always use Delta! 

Dr. E: I love Delta! I forgot to add that our country will also appreciate following the advice of public health professionals and the office of our veep. 

Nancy: You sound like a government agent! Are you sure that you don’t work for the state department?

Dr. E: It’s only fair to be impartial at times. I tend to understand the position of the Center for Disease Control and US Department of Public Health. The public phobia about corona and the media frenzy that fuels the public anxiety is unwarranted!

Dr. E: Nancy, I love to keep on chatting with you, but I must hit the swimming pool now! All I want you guys to do is to stick on to your travel plans!

Nancy: I will discuss it with Paul tonight. Thanks for the insight, I’m already sold to the idea!

Dr. E: Lovely! Hope to see you again before your trip!

Disclaimer: To respect my audience, narrations are minimally dramatized to create a more entertaining story.

* I have used the pseudonyms of Nancy and Paul to respect   the privacy of my acquaintances in the above story.

Dr. E


Also known as "Dr. Testbuster", Dr. Eftekar (Dr. E) is the founder, head coach and lead lecturer of the medical board training programs at Northwestern Medical Review. A unique attribute of Dr. E is his well-rounded academic background that, in addition to the science of medicine, extends over several other disciplines such as physiology of aging and longevity, philosophy of science and medicine, and integrated kinesiology.

1 Comment


  • Dr. E

    Addendum: My conversation with Nancy took place in mid-February. As it turned out, due to inadequate information oozing out from original epicenter of the Corona, and lack of adequate information, the Corona’s severity was totally underestimated by the entire world. Within two weeks after my conversation with Nancy, a sudden explosion of information about the severity and contagiousness of the Covid-19 permeated the entire globe. Within a short time thereafter, all international flights, conferences, and crowd gatherings were cancelled. The rest of the story is well documented by the US government, broadcast and social media.

    Dr. E Reply

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