As I write this on the morning of 2 March 2019, the www.worldometers.info site reveals that Coronavirus cases have reached 89,081; deaths 3,117 (of which 48 are the new deaths); and, recovered 45,148. This means that the still-active cases are 40,876. Of these active cases, 7,375 are either serious or critical.
The new cases reported this morning are 693, including 202 in China, 476 in South Korea, 12 in the USA, 1 in Thailand, and 2 in Indonesia. On the worldometers chart, there are no known new cases in Italy. Of the 256 cases in Japan, there have been 7 deaths. (This excludes the 705 cases and 7 deaths emanating from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.)
Out of the recovered 45,148 cased, 16 were in Vietnam – all recovered and no active cases. In Russia, there were 2 – all recovered and no active cases. In Cambodia, there was 1 case, recovered, and no active cases. In India, there were 3 cases all in Kerala – all recovered and no active cases. In Nepal, there was 1 case – which has recovered and no active cases. In Sri Lanka, there was 1 case – recovered and no active cases. In Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Mauritius, there have been zero cases, so far.
South Asia seems to have very few or even negligible cases and full recoveries so far. Although we have read reports of caution and action taken by the Indian government for rapid screening, we remain both skeptical and encouraged by this success or luck. This is remarkable given the high number of Indians and South Asians studying in China and also considering a large number of Indian crew numbers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
While the three Indian cases recognized have recovered, there is a fourth patient in Kerala who died but tested negative for the Coronavirus. One must keep this case in mind. There is the danger of under-reporting from around the world, especially the US, where they have not had enough test kits so far, and only 500 tests have been performed as of 1 March 2020.
Our comments – a positive prognosis
The trends indicate that the number of new Coronavirus cases being recognized is slowing down. If you read this on 12 March 2020 and the total identified cases are below 96,000 (89,901 on 2 March), then the worst may be over. If on 12 March 2020, the total recognized Coronavirus cases are below 95,000, then the worst is likely to be over.
Are the trade fairs safe to participate in?
With several book fairs like Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Livre Paris Book Fair and the London Book Fair, Fespa in Madrid, Interpack, and Drupa in Dusseldorf coming up, the situation has become difficult for organizers, exhibitors and visitors. Some like Bologna CBF in Northern Italy, which has been greatly affected by the Coronavirus have already been postponed by a month. The organizers of the London Book Fair from 10 to 12 March have not as of 1 March, postponed the event. The Livre Paris Book Fair from 20 to 23 March at which India is the country partner, has also not yet announced any postponement although it is likely to be postponed.
We think 12 March 2020 is a day by which the position of the Coronavirus becoming either a pandemic or subsiding may become more apparent. Nevertheless, traveling to any industry event is likely to have some risk that individuals and companies will have to assess.
Events like Metpack and Interpack in the first half of May 2020 that have many exhibitors from South Korea, China, and Italy could be hit in terms of exhibitors being unable to participate for various reasons. Drupa, which is the second half of June, also has significant exhibitors from these countries.
If on 12 March 2020, the number of active cases continues to decline to 32,000 (from 40,876 on the morning of 2 March), then most likely, the worst is over. Our strictly amateur guess is that the risk of travel, in this case, will come down by 6 or 7 April 2020.
If the downward trend continues provably, a further guess is that the risk of travel to Metpack and Interpack in the first half of May will decline but will still be there. However, all travel will remain risky. If both the day to day evidence and the trends hold for the decline in new and active cases by 6 or 7 April, then it should be a bit safer to travel 56 days after 6 April, that is on 1 June, given that the incubation period for the virus is from 2 to 14 days.
Please understand that this is the guesswork of an amateur with no understanding of epidemiology, vectors, or pandemics. It is a back of the envelope exercise. Every company and individual must undertake a decision in consultation with their doctor and their family—no business warrants risking lives, whether those of your employees, your own or other strangers to whom you may be unwittingly spreading this virus with a high fatality rate.