We posted our first COVID-19 blog on February 24, 2020, when there were only as few as 11 active cases in Canada. During the past week, I'm happy to see that many businesses in Canada made their very first announcement about COVID-19 in Canada, after the number of Canadian active cases reached 3 digits. It's better late than never.
In this blog post, I'd like to discuss what has changed since our last blog post, and how Homadorma hosts should respond to prepare for the virus spread.
Are Canadians in danger?
The answer is still, no, but it's worth monitoring closely. There are currently 317 cases of COVID-19 affections in Canada. The number has been growing at a daily rate of 20-30% in the last 5 days. As the government now encourages the public to self-assess and attend the assessment centre, there will be more hidden cases uncovered in the next few days.
There is definitely a change in the tone of the government regarding the outbreak. For example, the government of BC no longer claim "the risk to Canadians continue to be low".
Has there been a drop in the number of bookings at Homadorma?
The answer is, no. The number of homestay bookings on homadorma.com to date actually increased compared to 2019. Homadorma is beginning to get recognized by our university partners
Homadorma is a platform for international students to book long term accommodations in Canada. We are not affected as much as travel industry in COVID-19 outbreak.
Will there be a drop in the number of bookings at Homadorma moving forward?
Likely, yes. As more and more Canadian universities suspend in-person instructions, there will likely be a drop of demand in the demand of long term housing accommodation. Government of Canada warns against all non-essential oversea travels, and the prime minister has announced a closure of border entry. When the entire economy takes a hit by the COVID-19, we can't be the only company that is not affected by it.
When will COVID-19 stop?
In our previous blog post about COVID-19, we compared the COVID-19 to a the flu season in the United States. We estimated the incremental cases will begin to slow down in March or April. We are now witnessing variances in each country that is affected. Let's look the top affected countries one by one.
The number of incremental cases has significantly slowed down. Although there has been some changes in the statistical method used to get the number, it is clear that the number of new cases in China is already within control.
This is the country that has been repetitively hitting headlines in the last couple of days. The number of new COVID-19 cases is still increasing very quickly at a rate of 20%. The good news is that it is a better rate compared to the average of roughly 40% in late February. It's difficult to control the growth in March, but the situation should get better in April.
This is a country that constantly hit news in late February, but it seems to be away from the spotlight recently. The reason is simple: the situation has improved. The daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases has been maintained at around 10% in the last few days. I would be not surprised to see the number drops further in April.
This is a role model. The number of daily increases dropped to 2 digits on March 14. This is the first time since February 21. Korea could probably be able to declare victory against the virus in April.
The reason that Korea and China are doing better now, is not that they have more advanced healthcare system than countries like Italy. It is simply because they have been in the outbreak longer than other countries. Most of other countries, including United States and Canada, are still in the early stages of the COVID-19 case growth. It is reasonable to assume that we will need roughly the same amount of time to get things under control.
How will it affect my homestay business on homadorma.com?
As far as we can tell, not much yet. If Canada is able to control the coronavirus outbreak in 2 months, the daily number of incremental cases should plateau in late May, and begin dropping. International students enrol in Universities, Colleges and schools in September. Most of them begin booking homestay accommodations in July and August.
Our expectation is that there will be a shortage of student housing in July and August, if the world recovers from COVID-19 by then. After all, studying abroad is in no way similar to vacation abroad. It is such an important decision in the lifetime of students. They do not simply change destinations. As long as international students continue intending to study abroad, Canada will be on top of their list.
If the outbreaks in Canada lasts longer, and extends well into July, we will definitely begin witnessing drop of bookings on Homadorma.com. International students may choose to defer their study to the following school intake hoping that Canada gets better, or they may choose to go to other countries such as U.S., UK and Australia, if they manage to get out of the quagmire earlier than us.
Is there anything I should get to prepare for the COVID-19?
Definitely not stocking up the toilet paper. :) To be honest, I do not quite understand why people choose to stock up toilet paper. Wiping something off the table is not going to make it virus-free. To limit the community transmission of COVID-19, getting products from online retailers is a much better choice than standing in at the checkout in your local grocery store. Walmart, Costco, Amazon, Loblaws all make it possible for us to shop online.
There are quite a few other stuff you may consider buying according to advice from the government. We have listed below some advice from the government, and merchandise that could be obtained from online. Our preferred store is Amazon.ca, since it offers fast delivery of many products to most Canadian households with Amazon prime membership.
Disclaimer: Homadorma is an Amazon Associate. We love buying stuff from Amazon, and we do not hesitate recommending it to others. Please feel free to get the merchandise at your other favourite store if Amazon is not your thing.
Soap and hand sanitizer
According to the government of Ontario, you should wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This softsoap is rather inexpensive. You may easily get it shipped to your household. Please note currently it does take some time to deliver.
If you are in a rush to get the soap, this Dove bar could be a good option. It takes only 1 day to deliver with Amazon Prime.
Washing hands often is the best protection. But sometimes, we need something to sanitize our hands right away. I must admit currently many hand sanitizers on amazon are sold by 3rd parties. The price is rather high. You may find some sanitizers worth purchasing at a later date here.
According to the government of Ontario, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and avoid contact with people who are sick. In case you must avoidably touch certain things, lab gloves could be a good protection.
A blog where Homadorma team share information with our hosts and students.