Nicholas Schneider is an American student who was studying in Wuhan, China.
He said, “It’s like a ghost town, barely any people and cars. It’s a weird feeling. I feel like I’m in an apocalypse somehow.”
Wuhan is a city of 11 million where the outbreak of the coronavirus began. Now it’s on lockdown, with hardly anyone allowed to enter, or leave.
Unless, you’re not a Chinese citizen.
The United States embassy arranged for a charter flight to take American citizens out of Wuhan. But they told Nicholas Schneider he would have to arrange his own transportation to the airport.
The airport was 30 miles away.
Under normal circumstances it would be easy to book a ride to the airport. But the Chinese government has shut down most transport in Wuhan in an effort to contain the virus. So Schneider had no way to get to the airport.
The US embassy unceremoniously told him his seat had been given to someone else. The flight took off with 210 passengers, bound for California, and left Schneider behind.
At this point, most people would be out of luck.
But Nicholas Schneider has dual German citizenship. He has a US passport, AND a German passport.
So he called the German embassy.
They offered him a flight out of Wuhan last Saturday AND a bus ride to the airport.
Without dual citizenship, Schneider would still be stuck in the epicenter of this viral outbreak.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine dual citizenship and a second passport really benefiting you if you aren’t living a James Bond lifestyle. But these are the types of unforeseen circumstances that make a Plan B so important.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist. Quite the opposite. The media tends to terrify people every few years with predictions of a viral apocalypse… and yet we made it through the Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, Ebola, Zika, and so on.
And I’m sure we’ll make it through the Coronavirus too.
But in fairness there are a few things about this one that seem different. Most importantly, according to information released by Chinese public health officials, it appears the virus can spread while still incubating, i.e. the carrier shows no symptoms.
In other words, there are people walking around right now who have become infected with the Coronavirus, and they have no earthly idea.
They don’t even have the sniffles right now. But they are potentially infecting and exposing others to the virus while appearing to be normal and healthy.
Symptoms won’t even show up for 1-2 weeks.
And that means a lot of people who left Wuhan a week or more ago have carried the virus to other parts of the world and potentially infected a lot more people.
We won’t know for sure what the real situation is for another week or two. By then, it will be obvious– either the virus will be somewhat contained, or the number of infections will have increased by an order of magnitude.
And that could certainly cause a lot of hysteria.
Remember the facts: statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to die being crushed by a vending machine than you are from the Coronavirus.
But it still doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B.
It’s hard to predict how people and governments will react. We’ve already seen flights canceled, quarantines, visa suspensions, and more.
And if the virus appears to be spreading, you can bet that there will be a run on surgical masks and potentially even food at the grocery store.
There’s certainly minimal downside to thinking through some of those steps in advance, i.e. stopping by the drug store to buy a mask/goggles, or buying some extra non-perishable food, just in case there’s a stampede next week.
Even if the Coronavirus is a distant memory by Valentine’s Day, you won’t be worse off having those things in your house.
And that’s the whole idea behind a Plan B: no one has a crystal ball. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the Coronavirus, or how people and governments will react.
This isn’t about paranoia. It never is. Sensible, rational people think through risks, especially when there’s an obvious one on the table.
Again, it’s not like anyone is going to be worse off for having some extra non-perishable food, water, or medical supplies around the house. But if the worst happens, you’ll really benefit from cautious, forward thinking.
And something like a second passport really helps mitigate risks in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine, just as happened to Nicholas Schneider.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out this free resource on The Eight Easiest And Fastest Citizenships & Passports To Acquire In 2020.