The new coronavirus from China has claimed two more victims, and this time, it’s the World Poker Tour’s upcoming events in Vietnam and Taiwan.
With the virus claiming more than 1,600 lives in China alone, governments and organizations around the world on are high alert.
In line with the latest containment and prevention efforts, the WPT has altered its Asian schedule. The WPT’s Danny McDonagh made the news public via Facebook on Feb. 14.
Goodbye Vietnam as Coronavirus Threat Looms
Although the current plans include postponing and cancelling events, the tone of McDonagh’s post suggests nothing is set in stone.
“This past week we have considered seriously our upcoming events in Asia, notably WPT Vietnam from March 13 to 22 and WPT Taiwan from March 27 to April 6, given the current uncertainty surrounding hosting events in this region.
We have come to the conclusion that it is best for WPT to take a break from events in Asia these next three months until a clearer picture about the spread of the coronavirus, and the ability to safely hold the events, can be determined.
Accordingly, we will be cancelling our second Season XVIII WPT Vietnam event and postponing the inaugural WPT Taiwan event to May 14 to 24,” reads the Feb. 14 Facebook post.
The announcement comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a “high” threat both in Asia, and globally.
Outside of China, three deaths have occurred to date (one in Taiwan), and 51,857 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. Other sources, including John Hopkins university, set the number of confirmed cases at more than 69,000.
Whatever metric the WPT has taken into account, coronavirus poses enough of a risk to cancel events. What’s more, with scientists struggling to develop a vaccine, the WPT may have to adjust its plans again.
For now, WPT Vietnam has been cancelled, and the inaugural WPT Taiwan will move from March to May.
WPT Joins Other Poker Operators in Protecting Players
At this stage, coronavirus won’t affect WPT Asia Pacific events scheduled for later in 2020. Moreover, WPT tournaments in other parts of the world are yet to be affected.
Globally, coronavirus hasn’t had a huge impact on poker. Festivals in Europe and America have taken place as planned with the added proviso that players should follow safety advice from WHO:
- Wash your hands as often as possible
- Practice respiratory hygiene e.g., covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Try to maintain a “social distance” of at least three feet from other people (if possible), especially when those around you are coughing, sneezing, or have a fever
Paul Hunter, Professor of Health Protection at the University of East Anglia in the UK, told The Independent that the risks are decreasing. In his view, the spread of coronavirus will have slowed by the summer.
“At the moment the mortality rate is looking at about 2%, which is a little bit more than we would see for influenza. But I suspect that mortality rate will drop as we increasingly find less severe cases. At the moment, we don’t know how big globally it will be, but it will be no worse than a really bad pandemic influenza year,” Hunter told the British newspaper.
Despite the optimism among experts, poker companies aren’t taking any chances. Triton Poker recently cancelled its event in Jeju, while organizers at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) say they will monitor the situation.
What is Coronavirus?
Novel coronavirus (nCoV) acute respiratory disease is part of a larger family of viruses. These viruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted between animals and humans. As with all viruses, coronaviruses exist on a spectrum, with certain strains causing mild illnesses.
Other strains, however, can lead to severe conditions such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that hasn’t previously been identified in humans.
Common symptoms include coughing, fever, and difficulties breathing. Severe cases can lead to kidney failure, pneumonia and, in the worst scenarios, death.