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Hong Kong received plenty of praise in February and early March for keeping its coronavirus infections at low numbers. Then COVID-19 returned with a vengeance in this global pandemic, with Taiwan and Singapore experiencing surges in their figures at the same time.

Although the number of cases is still relatively low compared to the population density of each region, the primary issue for each destination involves travel. 

A majority of the cases that Hong Kong reports come from travel to other countries. Local transmissions have stayed low.

Students from the United States and Europe account for the largest share of the imported cases, with at least 191 confirmed from students who were studying in the United Kingdom.

What Does This Information Mean for Americans?

The new reality of coronavirus is that travel restrictions are going to be in place for a while. Most countries focus on international borders because of their size, but the U.S. is in a unique position.

Different states have varying COVID-19 cases and infection intensity. New York has over 159,000 confirmed cases and over 7,000 deaths as of April 10, 2020. Washington State had the first epicenter of the new coronavirus in February and led the country in total infections and deaths for over a month. Now it isn’t even in the top 10.

Hong Kong had a tour group visit Egypt. Multiple travelers developed COVID-19 symptoms after returning in early March. As virus hotspots migrate around the world, Americans must be prepared to keep shifting travel bans to ensure communities stay protected.

Anyone who goes outside of a restricted area faces the possibility of catching this virus. That’s why the stay-at-home orders are effective at limiting new transmissions.

How Long Is the Pandemic Going to Last?

The reality of COVID-19 is that it is likely here to stay. Its respiratory disease cousins SARS and MERS feature seasonal variables and contact with animal carriers, but this new one is so infectious that it may never entirely disappear.

Most experts believe it will turn into a new seasonal strain that we must work to control in the future.

That means social distancing measures should continue until therapies are in place to control the symptoms that people experience. Anyone who is part of a vulnerable population group should consider remaining at home to protect their health.

That means the 2020 summer travel window for Americans could be a staycation.

Scott Larson