Novel Corona Virus affects au pair programmes in China and worldwide

Novel Corona Virus affects au pair programmes in China and worldwide

The Novel Coronavirus (2019n-CoV) dominates all conversations these days. It is already clear that it will have a major impact on international travel, cultural exchange programmes in general and of course our au pair programmes.

China is one an important IAPA member state and many of you send to or receive au pairs from China. There are a lot of rumours and uncertainties and of course, we are all worried about the situation for our partners, au pairs and host families.

The Facts so far:

  • Until today (11 February 2020), the World Health Organisation (WHO) categorised the coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) – not yet a pandemic.
  • As of today, 11 February, the China Health Commission reports that the death toll from the coronavirus is now over 1000, with more than 43.000 people infected globally. Check stats and charts in the Shanghai Daily  (or click on the cart on the right) and in the  WHO report from 10 February
  • As terrible as these numbers are, you can also see in this chart that the increase of the number of infections has slowed down over the last days which gives reason for very careful optimism that the peak may have been reached
  • Several countries have now issued travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods affecting Chinese arrivals, and more than20 countries have, for the moment, closed their borders to Chinese visitors.
  • Additionally, there are many more countries that have temporarily suspended flights in and out of China and established quarantine restrictions for new arrivals from China.
  • Although the infection rate is merely less than 2 out of 100,000 in the Chinese population and the fatality rate is around 2%, just like with other epidemics, public panic is one of the most dangerous contributors to the scale of the virus’ impact. So that there is not only the fight against the virus itself but also against misinformation that spreads in lightning speed nowadays. 
IAPA has spoken to Michael Xie, IAPA Board Member and Chair of CAPA the Chinese Au Pair Association to get some first-hand insight on the situation that we can pass on to our members.

The situation in China regarding the au pair programme:

  • More than 50% of the in-country au pairs have returned to their homes and the number is still increasing.
  • Almost all outbound programmes from China have come to a pause with suspended departures and indefinite delays on recruitment or placements
  • Luckily, no suspicious or infected cases have been reported among all 17 CAPA agencies.
  • Many agency offices are still closed and employees work from home, however, there is always someone who is in charge to support au pairs, families and partners and to answer your questions

What can partner agencies do?

Here are our suggestions what you can do to reassure and support the Chinese community and help diminish negative impact on our very globally involved industry:

  • Do only release verified information from the authorities e.g. from the WHO´s official webpage.
  • On this page, some myths are being dispelled
  • Send a message of support and solidarity to your Chinese partner
  • Help your Chinese partner by communicating in one voice with au pairs who are in China right now, their parents overseas and/or host families in your countries who host or plan to host a Chinese au pair
  • Reach out to Chinese au pairs who are already in your country and give them support. They may be very worried and insecure and may even be affected by some unjustified negative reactions from their surrounding.
  • Closely monitor the situation and adopt a wait-and-see position for February departures/arrivals and onwards, giving positive encouragements to applicants
  • Understand that your Chinese partner’s business has to undergo a difficult time in many ways and show support. Discuss conditions to make things work for both sides. Your own business may suffer as well. Mutual understanding, communication and willingness to find compromises are important now and make a good partnership.
  • Most importantly: Keep calm!
We all hope that the peak of the epidemic will be reached soon and that the situation will calm down before long.

For questions or if you have information for us that is relevant for our members please contact Michael Xie or Patricia Brunner