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Friday, February 28, 2020

A Quick Coronavirus Update

There has been a change at the Oman Open since yesterday's post, plus I wanted to clarify a rumor that is making the rounds.

First, you may have heard that Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari have been allowed back into the Oman Open since the testing for the virus came back negative on Wednesday morning. If you've kept up with the news since the outbreak began, you know that this is a change from the more common policy of maintaining the quarantine for another week after a negative test. (In fact, Gagli mentioned that quarantine in his statement to the media. It would have kept him and Molinari out of next week's Qatar Masters.)

This change from the currently popular procedure fascinates me. To my knowledge, this decision isn't one that will be followed by all the other doctors dealing with the coronavirus. I can only think of four reasons that this decision would be made.
  1. It has been determined that the results of the testing are a sufficient guarantee that the virus isn't a threat in this case.
  2. It has been determined that the extra week of observation isn't providing any extra evidence about the virus.
  3. There was a monetary reason (with potential bad future effects) that caused the one-week quarantine to be lifted.
  4. The decision was made in order to try and limit any potential panic among the public.
Don't underestimate the possibility of that last one. If you've been following the US stock market this week, you know that worries about the coronavirus have sent the markets (we have three main stock markets) plummeting. In fact, the Dow Jones -- the biggest of the three -- fell nearly 1200 points on Thursday, the biggest single-day drop in history. The belief is that fear of (or actual infection by) the virus will adversely affect the US economy (and the world's economies as well) for a prolonged period, both through fear of going out in public and actual sickness.

The longer the coronavirus is a problem, the worse that effect will be. So we can expect that anybody with the power to affect the belief that the virus is a serious threat will try to convince the public that life is proceeding as usual.

And then there's that rumor.

There is a rumor going around that, just as flu tends to be a seasonal problem -- a cold weather problem -- the coronavirus is also likely to cease being a problem once the weather heats up. But, as this article from the New Scientist site points out, at this point we have no evidence that this will happen. We simply don't know enough about the coronavirus to make predictions, and we do know that there are plenty of viruses that spread just as fast in hot weather as they do in cold. So we can't count on that at this point.

However, there is one helpful thing that we do know. It seems that the coronavirus symptoms are the same as flu symptoms. That may not sound very helpful but it does give us at least one possible way to fight the coronavirus. If you have flu symptoms, go get checked out by a doctor. That could help us slow down the spread of the coronavirus until doctors get a handle on how to fight it.

I'll get back to covering golf tomorrow but this is something we should all be concerned about... and not only because it will affect golf.


  1. The JLPGA was originally scheduled to hold their season opener, the Daikin Orchid Ladies, the first weekend in March on Okinawa. When COVID-19 became an issue they initially considered holding the full field 108 woman event without a gallery and cancelled the pro-am as well to minimize the risk. Now in light of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's request to forgo all large gatherings for the next few weeks the tournament is canceled entirely.

    1. This is the first time since the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake that the tour has been forced to cancel an event. The original announcement (in Japanese, so you'll have to wash it through Google Translate):