The Regina International Airport and 16 Other Airports in the Country have flights leaving and returning from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world each day across Canada. International travel is productive, essential and fulfilling.
Yet, the convenience and lustre of international air travel have accelerated the spread of lethal illnesses around the globe at rates previously unknown.
“Evidence suggests that the likelihood of pandemics has increased over the past century because of increased global travel and integration, urbanisation, changes in land use and greater exploitation of the natural environment,” stated a 2008 research paper authored by K.E. Jones and others on global trends in diseases.
International travel and diseases have always been connected. Although not the world’s first pandemic, the Black Plague of the medieval era is perhaps history’s most well-known outbreak.
The second Black Death pandemic in history is believed to have originated in Central or East Asia. This disease eventually killed 30-60 per cent of Europe’s population from 1347 to 1665.
The Black Plague initially reached Europe by travelling along the Silk Road and then settling into Crimea by 1343. Southern Crimea is a semitropical finger of land jutting into the Black Sea, once owned by Ukraine, but since recaptured by Russia 2014.
European and Asian civilisations had been intersecting on the Crimea Peninsula since the classical eras of Greece and Persia. In Crimea, the horrific disease carried by fleas living on rats had crossed from Asia into Europe within a three to four-year span after venturing along the Silk Road.
Upon reaching Europe, the Black Plague is said to have decreased the world’s population from an estimated 475 million to 350-375 million in the 14th century.
Medieval Europe’s international trade in Asian silk had facilitated the spread of the plague caused by the bacterium known as Yersinia pestis. Similarly, but with speedier methods of distribution, modern diseases such as the coronavirus have employed their inextricable links to international travel and trade.
When the so-called Age of Exploration began in 1492, European explorers and their armies crossed the Atlantic to conquer the Americas, also delivering a litany of infections to the native populaces, such as smallpox. In turn, the natives of the Americas gave their European conquerors venereal diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhoea.
English sailors brought these SDTs from North America to Europe and then later to Tahiti and New Zealand on Cook’s voyages in the 18th century.
The world continued to shrink as travel and global commerce expanded, also increasing the distribution of human-to-human infections at an unforeseen velocity. The H1N1 virus hit North America in 2009 but soon created havoc in other continents within months rather than years because of air travel. H1N1 was a strain of the flu derived from the mixture of three other types all uniting to create a superbug.
Edgar Hernandez, a child living in the village of La Gloria, was purported to be the first human infected by the virus. The boy’s mother blamed the owners of the industrial-sized pig farms in the area owned by Smithfield Foods. However, the Mexican government refused to reprimand the corporation for generating this disease.
Whatever the sources of the ailment, this flu strain spread throughout the globe instantly, killing more than 200,000 people in 2009, with most deaths occurring far from Mexico in the continents of Africa and Asia.
The human coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, was conceived in Wuhan, where the disease is thought to have mutated in the city’s poorly sanitised markets. The disease had recently arrived in Canada via an international flight from Toronto to Guangzhou on January 22.
Almost a week later, Air Canada and United Airlines announced they were cancelling flights to China on January 28, which were intelligent decisions.
In the interim, Global News reported 132 deaths in Wuhan, where American and Japanese official have started to evacuate citizens living in the city in the Hubei province as the numbers of mortalities continue to rise.