Medical travel during Covid-19 outbreak

Last Modified: April 6, 2021  |   Created on: August 23, 2020
General Health

The global pandemic of novel Coronavirus started in 2019 from a small province in China. It has now spread to almost all countries of the world and infected millions of people. The virus SARS-CoV-2 responsible for Covid-19 has a high transmission rate. The WHO global statistics reports more than 39.4 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 1.11 million deaths, as of Oct 16, 2020. As the number of cases rose, almost all the nations took immediate measures to limit the infection spread and a ban was put on international travels. To further slow down the doubling rate within the nations, guidelines were issued for local social distancing, restriction of local transport, no public gatherings and wearing masks in public places. The countries that are most affected, implemented even more severe measures to prevent the spread of infection. 

However, as the Covid-19 situation is evolving, many countries are planning to or have already re-opened travel. Other restrictions that were put since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are also subsequently lifting. The removal of temporary restrictions on travel has been based on a thorough risk assessment by every country, including considerations on the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national health measures, social protocols to control the outbreak, and the capacities of health systems in both countries of departure and destination, as well as the points of entry.  Other measures based on public health risk assessment, conducted regularly and systematically, are being communicated to the public on regular basis. (for more information, refer to WHO page). 

This page aims to inform and update people about the countries that are gradually returning to international travel operations and measures taken by them

Medical-tarvel-in-Covid-19

General precautionary measures implemented by most countries for travellers:

Laboratory PCR testing: The molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 immediately prior to departure or on arrival is a mandatory requirement in most countries. This is to obtain the information about the current health status of travellers and ensure that they are not infected. However, as there is a chance that some laboratory results might be false negative and false positive, they should be interpreted with caution. The test results should be issued by a government accredited facility only and a comprehensive COVID-19 should be followed up. The departing travellers are advised who have been tested are advised to report any symptoms to local public health authorities. If a passengers tests positive on arrival, all the other travellers are informed and necessary measures are taken. Travellers are also given emergency phone number so that they can inform the authorities in case they develop symptoms. 

Information form or self-declaration form: This is to obtain information about all the passengers travelling together. In case of emergency or if a person is found positive for Covid-19, other travellers can be informed. All countries and airlines provide their own forms. According to the WHO guideline on contact tracing for COVID-19, people who had been in contact with confirmed cases should be quarantined or asked to self-isolate as part of prevention strategies.

Self-monitor: Travellers should look out for the potential onset of symptoms and take stringent precaution for 14 days after arrival. Any symptoms and travel history should be reported to local health facilities and national protocols must be followed. 

Quarantine requirements: Many countries have implemented quarantine measures for all travellers on arrival, typically for 7 or 14 days. It can be institutional quarantine in a government recognized facility or self-quarantine at a hotel, guest house or residential area.

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Medical travel to other countries

Several top medical tourism destinations have started welcoming international patients, and they are strictly following the recommended guidelines and taking important precautions. The hospitals are taking proper measures to ensure the safety of all the patients and maintaining stringent hygiene levels at their facilities.

If you are planning to travel to other country for a medical treatment or other reason, it is best to be aware about the different policies, requirements and public health measures implemented by that nation. (Last updated on Sept 19, 2020).

Turkey

  • Turkey has opened up to the majority of international travel through air, sea and land borders.According to the guide published by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, certain flight restrictions are applicable for arrivals to Turkey. All passengers are required to obey the following conditions for a healthy and safe flight:
    • As of December 30, 2020, travelers arriving in Turkey must submit a negative PCR test (nucleic acid) with the test sample that has been taken within 72 hours prior to the passenger’s scheduled departure from the country of origin. This is mandatory for all passengers aged 6 years and above, except sailors and transit passengers. The requirement of PCR test will continue until April 14, 2021.
    • International visitors who will arrive in Turkey as of 15th of March 2021 GMT+3 (not including transit passengers and those under of age 6) are required to fill in the Turkey Entrance Form. It can be obtained on the airline website within 72 hours of their departure. Print out or take mobile screenshots of the filled form as they have to be submitted to airline crew before boarding.
    • All visitors are required to wear masks at the airport and during the flights.
    • All visitors must complete the passenger information form before they arrive in Turkey so that other passengers on the flight can be notified in case they are diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.
    • All visitors and airline crew are required to undergo a medical examination and those showing symptoms will have to get tested.

    Passengers who visited Brazil, United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa within the last 10 days and arriving to Turkey:

    • Arrivals to Turkey from the following countries: Brazil, United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa are suspended and flights arriving directly from these countries are suspended.
    • – This does not apply to humanitarian and repatriation flights.Ticket change and other requests can be referred to sales offices or the agencies where the ticket was purchased.
    • All visitors arriving in Turkey from other countries who visited Brazil, United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa within the last 10 days have to be quarantined for 14 days following their arrival at institutions or places selected by the Turkish official authorities. On the 10th day of the quarantine period, they will undergo a second PCR test and if the test result is negative, the isolation period will end.
    • Visitors of 6 years and older who visited the aforementioned countries and arriving Turkey must submit a negative PCR test result before boarding with a sample collected within the last 72-hours prior to departure.

Details of Lockdown and restrictions in the country

  • The nationwide curfew Monday through Friday between 9PM and 5AM continue throughout Turkey.
  • For regions with the “high” and “very high” category, curfews remain in effect on Sunday starting from 9 p.m. on Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday.
  • Dining facilities including restaurants, patisseries, cafes, and cafeterias will be open for in-person dining at half capacity between 7AM and 7PM, excluding regions of “very high”-risk. People are required to have HES code to enter these dining establishments.
  • Local restrictions include requirement of the use of HES codes to enter state buildings, schools, and public spaces such as malls, restaurants, cafes, libraries, sport centers, wedding halls, barbers/beauty parlors, and game halls. Shopping malls, supermarkets, barbers and hairdressers are open for service during the hours of 07:00-19:00.

UAE

    • International travel in and out the country is allowed. (depending on the status of international travel operations in the country a person is travelling to or from)
    • A certificate of negative PCR COVID-19 Test result issued by any government accredited medical facility within 96 hours before boarding the flight is mandatory. This does not apply to children younger than 12 years and individuals with severe or moderate disabilities. Passengers coming from the UK and Germany have the option to take a complimentary COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.
    • Thermal screening and COVID-19 PCR testing might be done at the airport. Passanger must remain in the hotel or residence until the test results are recieved. If the test result is positive, the person will need to be isolated and the Dubai Health Authority guidelines will be followed.
    • A completed self-declaration health form must be presented upon arrival at Dubai (DXB).
    • Passengers arriving at Dubai (DXB) must download and register the COVID-19 DXB Smart App.
    • There are no special requirements for visa process, as of now. Taxis services are operational between Dubai and Abu Dhabi airport.
    • Preventive measures taken by the Airlines include passengers must wear face masks, fill up the passenger locator forms provided by the Airlines.
    • Quarantine time after travel is 14 days. The person will need to self-quarantine at home or in a quarantine facility, at their own expense. Follow-up testing will be done after completion of quarantine period.  Travelers arriving into Abu Dhabi have to wear a GPS bracelet for 14 days. Guidance is subject to changes regularly. Quarantine requirements may vary upon certain factors. Visit the Government of Dubai website or Government of Abu Dhabi website, depending on where you will be arriving, to remain updated about the testing on arrival and quarantine.

Travel restrictions for visitors from South Africa and Nigeria

  • Those who have been in or transited through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days before travelling to Dubai will not be to enter Dubai. UAE nationals returning to the UAE and members of diplomatic missions are exempt from this condition. Members of diplomatic missions travelling from Nigeria must carry a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate from an authorized laboratory in Nigeria.
  • UAE Airlines websites provide regular updates on flight schedules and information about regulations upon arriving in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

Thailand

  • Thailand has some travel restrictions but allowed limited number of foreign nationals from specific categories to enter the country.
  • The visitors will urdergo potential COVID-19 testing upon arrival and to 14-days quarantine.
  • Any eligible foreign national must obtain a “Certificate of Entry” to enter Thailand from their local Thai embassy or consulate.
  • On March 31, the Tourism Authority of Thailand announced that interprovincial transportation has fully resumed.
  • Passengers will need to present a fit-to-fly health certificate which attests that the passenger pose no risk of being infected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during check-in.
  • A negative PCR COVID-19 lab test result issued within 72 hours must be presented before the departure.
  • While travelling, face masks are compulsory on the flights.
  • Passengers need to show a proof of health insurance (in amount of US$ 100,000) that could cover all expenditures of medical treatment while travelling abroad.
  • Covid-19 screening will be conducted for all arriving passengers
  • Visitors are recommended to download the AOT Airport app in their personal device and report their state of health. The app can be found on Google Play store or other App stores.
  • Passengers are encouraged to self-isolate for at least 14 days and follow all the precautions even after this period. It is advised go out when necessary but avoid situations/ public places with crowds.
  • Keep updated with latest information about the local situation from the official websites of WHO and the Thai Department of Disease Controls.
  • Face masks are compulsory on public transport

Tourist visas will be issued to travellers who wish to stay in the country for a minimum of 90 days. This will come under the STV or Special Tourist Visas. A payment of 2000 baht or 64 USD must be made by the tourists and the visa is extendable up to 270 days. For approval, following must be presented:

  1. Proof of accommodation bookings for the quarantine period
  2. Proof of ownership of property or rent deposit for the chosen apartment during the stay
  3. Confirmed flight tickets

The Special Tourist visa to Thailand will remain in effect till September 2021.

Check updates on Thailand travel: https://www.tatnews.org/category/thailand-tourism-updates/

India

Although India is one of the countries with highest recovery rates, there are still some international travel restrictions.

Foreign nationals are permitted to enter India by water routes or by flights including those under the Vande Bharat Mission or ‘Air Bubble’ (Bilateral Air Travel Arrangements) Scheme or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

In the case of Medical Visa (including visa for Medical Attendants): foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment in emergencies may be granted Medical visa for appropriate period by the Indian Missions/Posts. The condition of obtaining a visa will not apply to dependent family members of foreign diplomats/officials who are eligible for visa exemption in terms of bilateral visa exemption agreements or visa specific agreements entered into by India with various countries. The e-Visa is currently not working and the applicants have to visit the Consulate for document and application submissions.

Nationals of Nepal and Bhutan are permitted to come to India from any country (including any third country).

On arrival, the travellers will have to follow  guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in respect to quarantine and all other health/COVID-19 related matters.

All travellers must submit self-declaration form on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel or physically after arrival at the respective health counters.

Thee passangers must also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India, through concerned airlines before they undertake the journey stating that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo facility/home quarantine/self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted.

Travelers may seek exemption from institutional quarantine by submitting a negative RT-PCR test report. The test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to boarding the flight. They shall aslo upload the test report on the portal for consideration. Additionally, a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise, shall be submitted. The test report could also be produced upon arrival at the point of entry airport in India.

Foreigners arriving without an RT-PCR negative certificate and wishing to seek exemption from institutional quarantine may also avail the facility available at the airports to undergo RT-PCR testing (where such provisions exist).

The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol.

The telecommunication services have been started by many hospitals and healthcare organizations to help patients. With the telemedicine facilities, patients and their family members can receive consultations and primary medical opinions for the health experts or specialists, based on their medical condition. To view the top doctors in India available for teleconsultation services on our page, click here.

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Tips for the Travel

During your trip, make sure to take certain steps to protect yourself and others from exposure to COVID-19 virus:

  • Wear a face mask to keep your nose and mouth covered in all public places 
  • Avoid close contact and maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household
  • Wash your hands as often as you need or use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or shows symptoms
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth
Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.
Dr. Suneet Singh

Verified By Dr. Suneet Singh

Dr. Suneet is a doctor-turned-Hospital Administrator with a rich 12 years plus multi-faceted experience in the field of operations management, Corporate and Public Health Administration. Formerly a practicing doctor, Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from one of the country's esteemed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)

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Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.
Dr. Suneet Singh

Verified By Dr. Suneet Singh

Dr. Suneet is a doctor-turned-Hospital Administrator with a rich 12 years plus multi-faceted experience in the field of operations management, Corporate and Public Health Administration. Formerly a practicing doctor, Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from one of the country's esteemed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
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