How to fly home if your test is positive

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How to fly home if your test is positive


Even the most meticulously organized vacation can be derailed by a positive Covid test.
Travelers may face unexpected quarantines – in hotels or public facilities – or substandard medical services. Others may be denied the opportunity to take commercial flights or, if negative tests are required to return, to return home.

Travel insurance can help cover quarantine costs and medical costs incurred abroad. But for those who want to get home quickly, that’s not enough.

How to get home after testing positive

Launched in spring 2020, Covac Global transports people to their homes if they have been diagnosed with Covid while traveling within the country or abroad.
The team behind the company also runs a crisis response company called HRI, which manages security risks and “traditional medical” evacuations, CEO Ross Thompson said.
Covac Global’s goal is to bring our members home at the first sign of infection.

Ross Thompson

PDG, Covac Global

“No other solution on the market will transport you or cover a pandemic or contagious disease,” he said. “Now a few do, but they all either have geographic restrictions and require you to be hospitalized or medically necessary for you to be evacuated. ”

Evacuations are triggered when a traveler tests positive for Covid and has at least one symptom of the disease, which can be self-reported, Thompson said. Hospitalizations are not necessary.

Covac Global brings travelers back to their homes or a local hospital – not the nearest port of entry – and also arranges flight medics and ground and air ambulances.

“Going to the Covid-19 ward of a foreign hospital is a bad idea, both medically and psychologically,” he said. “The goal of Covac Global is to bring our members home at the first sign of infection. ”

Covac Global has carried out dozens of evacuations over the past year, from European cities to the Peruvian Andes, CEO Ross Thompson said.

Courtesy of Covac Global

The key? Travelers must register before leaving their home.

Memberships are available to residents of the United States and Canada, but will be open to all nationalities starting in May, Thompson said. Rates start at $ 675 for 15 days of coverage, which can be used over a 12-month period, and benefits begin two weeks after enrollment.

“We are currently evacuating a family from Ethiopia to the United States,” he said. “Last week we evacuated a family from the Maldives to New York – we picked them up by speedboat from their stilted villa and transferred them directly to a private waiting air ambulance. ”

Private medical evacuation for Covid is expensive, Thompson said, adding that transport can cost more than $ 200,000.

While there are no restrictions on travel destinations, memberships do not cover travelers on cruise ships or attending large-scale events.

What about the CDC testing requirements?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires air passengers to show a negative Covid test (or proof of recovery) before entering the United States.

“Extremely limited” exemptions are allowed for emergency travel, according to the CDC’s website.

Covac Global’s services fit that exception, Thompson said, adding that the company has never been prevented from bringing a member home. Medical travel must be via a certified air ambulance, under the care and recommendation of a physician, and detailed documentation must be filed with the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Covac Global works directly with resorts and villa rental companies including Exceptional Villas, Hermitage Bay Antigua, and Jamaica’s Tryall Club (pictured here).

Courtesy of the Tryall Club

“This is the only way for a positive Covid-19 patient to enter the United States,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a lot of people calling if a charter or even their own plane could get them home, and the answer is no. ”

The Tryall Club in Jamaica has partnered with Covac Global to ensure that guests have “all the options” available to them while on vacation, said Arla Vernon Gordon, manager of the all-villa resort.

Since February, nearly 40 guests have signed up for the program but to date “no guest has had to use the service,” she said.

A cheaper option for travelers who get really sick

A positive Covid test will not trigger assistance from travel risk management company Global Rescue, but hospitalization will.

The company is evacuating travelers who require hospitalization – for Covid infections or otherwise – and who are more than 160 km from their homes. Memberships are available to everyone, regardless of their country of citizenship.

Global Rescue has recruited more customers and partners since the start of the pandemic than in the company’s 16-year history.

Dan Richards

PDG, Global Rescue

Evacuations are to hospitals (not homes) in members’ home countries, and there are no Covid-related exclusions, such as vacation on cruise ships, the CEO said. from Global Rescue, Dan Richards.

Short-term memberships start at $ 119 for individuals and $ 199 for families (which includes a spouse and up to six dependents).

Global Rescue provides medical evacuation services for NASA and the United States Postal Service.

Courtesy of Global Rescue

“Global Rescue has recruited more customers and partners since the start of the pandemic than in the company’s 16-year history,” he said.

Logistics involving Covid evacuations can “get tricky,” Richards said, adding that Global Rescue has evacuated Covid cases from remote areas, including a serious case from Guam to the United States.

For travelers to North and Central America

The Medjet medical transport company transports its members to a hospital near their home, if they are hospitalized 150 miles or more from their primary residence.

Memberships are available to residents of the United States, Canada, and Mexico and cover repatriation worldwide. However, Covid-related assistance does apply for travel to the contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda and the Caribbean, said Medjet CEO Mike Hallman. .

It can be just as difficult to be stuck in one hospital five states away as it can be to be stuck in another halfway around the world.
The company added Covid-related services in October 2020, he said.

“Unlike travel insurance, we don’t have specific exclusions such as adventure travel, motorcycles, paragliding… so cruises aren’t excluded either,” Hallman told CNBC.

“We were also able to get a member from Australia home at the start of the pandemic, when global level 4 travel was stopped,” he said. “It had a lot of complications, but we fixed it and got them back. ”

Medjet has transport coordinators to monitor evacuation flights.

Courtesy of Medjet

Memberships start at around $ 99 for eight days of international and domestic travel coverage. People often buy subscriptions for “big international travel” and don’t think about it for domestic travel, Hallman said.

“It can be just as hard to be stuck in a hospital five states away as it is to be stuck halfway around the world,” Hallman said.

About half of annual transport takes place after travelers have returned from a “safe long trip and then had an accident or health episode while traveling within the country,” he said. .

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