Safe Air Travel Advice in a Covid-19 World
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 earlier this year, Medilink has been including in its weekly Medical Alerts, Covid-19 health advisory on the latest travel restrictions and requirements on country-by-country basis. In spite of the nine million plus positive Covid-19 cases reported to date – and rising – the majority of European countries are opening their borders and re-establishing flights to select destinations both within Europe and on other continents.
There has been talk in recent weeks of secure travel corridors and ‘air bridges’ among countries with mutually-compatible and ideally lower levels of Covid-19 prevalence. The issue of quarantine on arrival in certain countries is still a moot point and information on this and routes opening changes daily.
Given that more destinations will deem themselves ‘open for business’ although the risk of Covid-19 transmission remains high, we have compiled a checklist of measures to enhance your safety should you be traveling. The Medilink Clinical Governance Team feels the need to reinforce strongly the measures that air travelers should take in order to protect themselves from virus and reduce their exposure to Covid-19 and the likelihood of their being infected during their trip.
Before your Flight
1. Check the requirements of the airline and of the destination health authorities as near as possible to your departure date.
2. Do your research online to find out the latest Covid-19 information and ensure you use reliable sources from official health authorities and entities such as IATA and the WHO as well as from Medilink’s Health and Travel Alerts.
3. Make sure that you are in good health and you don’t have any signs or symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever and a loss of taste and sense of smell. If in any doubt, get a Covid-19 test done prior to departure in your home country or outbound location.
4. Check if your travel or health insurance provides cover should you contract COVID-19. This is imperative to find out if you are traveling to remote areas where you may require medevac services for hospitalisation.
5. Take sufficient facial masks and alcohol gel (sanitiser) for the duration of your trip especially if you are traveling long haul or your routing requires stop-overs.
6. If you require a Covid-19 free certificate or PCR test results to travel, be sure to obtain these within the timeframe required by the destination and any other authorities. This is normally up to 72 hours before departure.
7. Avoid checking in baggage. Some airlines have already stated they will not handle checked-in luggage.
On way to airport
1. If you use public transport, wear a mask or face shield at all times.
2. Respect social distancing. Good practice dictates a distance of two metres.
3. Disinfect your hands regularly and especially after touching surfaces in public areas.
4. Avoid touching your face and mask.
1. Respect social distancing at all times, and in particular at check in (if required), and at security, passport control and boarding gates.
2. Be aware that you may have your body temperature checked at various stages passing through the airport.
3. Always wear a face mask or face shield that covers your mouth and nose, and avoid touching it and your face.
4. Be patient. It is inevitable there will be delays at the airport. Arrive at least two hours in advance.
5. Wash your hands regularly while in transit through the airport.
6. In order to avoid meals on the plane, if served at all, eat and drink before boarding.
7. Reduce your hand luggage to minimum.
1. Keep your distance from fellow passengers inside the plane.
2. If you have to change your mask, disinfect your hands beforehand and discard the used mask in the toilet waste bin. Disinfect your hands before touching the new mask.
3. Avoid meals on board.
4. If you feel sick on board or suspect or notice that someone is unwell, flag this immediately to the flight crew.
At your destination
1. Respect social distancing as you disembark and at passport control, in baggage collection halls and all other public spaces in the terminal.
2. Note that your temperature is likely to be checked again.
3. Be patient. Expect delays throughout your arrival at and transit through the terminal.
4. Keep your boarding pass with seat number with you for at least 14 days after arrival. This will assist any track and trace measures.
5. Be sure that you have details of the local health authorities in your destination country in case you present symptoms in next 14 days.
6. Bear in mind that other diseases have not disappeared during the pandemic. While we are focusing on Covid-19, be aware that you still need to take precautions and get pre-travel immunisation up to date for other diseases. Malaria, yellow fever, zika, dengue and gastrointestinal illnesses are prevalent in certain regions.
At your destination hotel / accommodation
1. Again, respect social distancing, particularly at check in, in restaurants and all public areas.
2. Keep wearing your mask or facial shield until you reach your room.
3. Once in the room, check that it is clean and appears properly disinfected from the previous guests. If in any doubt about its cleanliness, report your concerns to the hotel or accommodation personnel.
4. Disinfect the remote controls and telephone in the room.
5. Take a shower and remove clothes worn during the trip. Keep the dirty clothes in a plastic bag isolated from clean clothes.
6. If possible, take your meals in your room. If not, then follow the rules above regarding social distancing and hand washing, and be mindful of any local rules on Covid-19 as well as specific instructions issued by your accommodation provider.
While this may seem a long list to take on board, and you may be familiar by now with similar instructions issued to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19, do read and re-read this checklist and follow our advice as strictly as you can while traveling.
Borders may be opening around the world, but Covid-19 is circulating and prevalent. Medilink wishes you a safe trip and we suggest you sign up for our regular Health and Travel Alerts – see below – to keep yourself updated on Covid-19.