What is your current take on the Coronavirus?
-While things can certainly change, for now the small number of cases outside of China do not appear to pose a significant threat to the hundreds of thousands of tourists currently traveling in these areas. We are hearing from our partners that extraordinary efforts are being made to keep the virus contained.
-Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and all other countries surrounding China have done an excellent job of keeping coronavirus from spreading to their countries by barring flights from areas of concern, using extreme screening methods at borders and requiring quarantine for known cases.
-Containment efforts in Asia (outside of China) have seemingly been as effective as those of the United States in limiting new Coronavirus cases.
-So far, the number of cases in southeast Asia remains relatively low: Thailand (37), Vietnam (18) and Cambodia (1). 65% of these cases were infected while traveling in China (updated Feb. 25, 2020).
What do you expect in the next several months:
Like everyone, we are hopeful that several things occur in the next several months:
1) The cases begin to resolve themselves through limited transmission and containment.
2) Anticipated warmer weather in the northern hemisphere begins to kill off the virus.
3) The current treatments in testing prove to be effective.
How are you monitoring the situation?
As you might imagine, we have been continuously monitoring the situation in China and the surrounding countries very closely. We have longtime partners on the ground throughout Asia and are getting updates from them almost on a daily basis. We also currently have gap programs operating throughout Asia (with the exception of China) and are receiving reports firsthand from our gap instructors regarding circumstances on the ground.
ARCC also receives updates from the State Department travel program, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as dozens of news sources. We feel we have a good grasp on the circumstances in the areas in which we operate.
What are your resources on the ground?
Everywhere ARCC operates we have a local partner, on the ground, in that country. Our partners are invaluable resources for us. They provide local knowledge, current information, logistics assistance, and access to resources normally not available to outsiders. They are well connected in their communities and act as an important safety net if an emergency occurs.
Can ARCC change an itinerary once a program has started?
Yes. We can easily make changes to an itinerary. We plan for this and embed flexibility into our programming. ARCC has been dealing with “unusual” situations for almost 40 years. We have dealt with earthquakes, volcanoes, coups, border’s closing, civil unrest, and many other unpredictable events. Our infrastructure allows us to quickly make changes to an itinerary and we have the global resources to effortlessly make these adjustments. As an example, just several days before the beginning of the most recent 90-day gap semester in Asia, we seamlessly swapped out our 4 week China section for a 4 week section in Nepal.