How to fly home if you test positive for Covid

Even the most careful vacation can be derailed by a positive Covid test.

Travelers can face unexpected quarantines – either in hotels or government facilities – or with inferior medical services. Others may be denied the opportunity to take commercial flights or, if negative tests are required to return, to get home at all.

Travel insurance can help cover quarantine and medical expenses incurred abroad. But for those who want to fly home quick, that’s not good enough.

How to fly home after a positive test

Covac Global was launched in spring 2020 and transports people home if they have been diagnosed with Covid at home or abroad.

The team behind the company also runs a crisis response company called HRI, which conducts security hazards and “traditional medical” evacuations, said CEO Ross Thompson.

Covac Global’s goal is to bring our members home at the first sign of infection.

Ross Thompson

CEO of Covac Global

“No other solution on the market would transport you or cover a pandemic or contagious disease,” he said. “Now some are doing it, but all of them either have geographic restrictions and require you to be hospitalized or that you are medically necessary to be evacuated.”

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

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

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

Covac Global completed dozens of evacuations from European cities to the Peruvian Andes in the past year, said CEO Ross Thompson.

Courtesy Covac Global

The key? Travelers must register before leaving home.

Memberships are available to residents of the United States and Canada, but will be open to all nationalities starting May, Thompson said. Prices start at $ 675 for 15 days of coverage that can be used over a period of 12 months. The services begin two weeks after registration.

“We are currently evacuating a family from Ethiopia back to the US,” he said. “Last week we evacuated a family from the Maldives back to New York – we picked them up from their overwater villa on a speedboat and took them straight to a waiting private ambulance.”

Private medical evacuation for Covid is expensive, Thompson said, adding that transportation can cost up to $ 200,000.

While there are no travel restrictions, memberships do not apply to cruise ship travelers or those attending major events.

What about the CDC testing requirements?

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

According to the CDC website, “extremely limited” exemptions are allowed for emergency travel.

Covac Global’s services fit that exception, Thompson said, adding that the company was never prevented from bringing a member home. Medical travel must be in a certified ambulance under the care and recommendation of a doctor, and detailed documentation must be submitted to 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 (shown here).

Courtesy of the Tryall Club

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

The Tryall Club in Jamaica has partnered with Covac Global to ensure that guests have “every option” on vacation, said Arla Vernon Gordon, director of the all-villa resort.

Almost 40 guests have signed up for the program since February, but so far “no guest has had to use the service,” she said.

A cheaper option for travelers who get really sick

A positive Covid test won’t take the support of travel risk management company Global Rescue, but hospitalization will.

The company is evacuating travelers who are hospitalized for Covid infection or otherwise and who are more than 100 miles from home. Memberships are available to everyone, regardless of their country of nationality.

Global Rescue has won more customers and partners since the outbreak of the pandemic than in the entire 16-year history of the company.

Dan Richards

CEO, Global Rescue

Evacuations take place in hospitals (not at home) in members’ home countries and there are no exclusions related to Covid, such as vacationing on cruise ships, said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue.

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

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

Courtesy Global Rescue

“Global Rescue has gained more customers and partners since the outbreak of the pandemic than in its entire 16-year history,” he said.

The logistics of Covid evacuations can “get tricky,” Richards said, adding that Global Rescue has evacuated Covid cases from remote regions, including a severe case from Guam to the US.

For travelers in North and Central America

Ambulance transportation company Medjet transports its members to a hospital near their home when they are in the hospital 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 support applies to travel to the adjacent US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda and the Caribbean, said Mike Hallman, CEO of Medjet.

It can be as difficult to be stuck in one hospital in five states as it is in half the world.

The company added Covid-related services in October 2020, he said.

“Unlike travel insurance, there are no special exclusions such as adventure travel, motorcycles, paragliding. So cruises are not excluded either,” Hallman told CNBC.

“We were also able to bring a member home from Australia early in the pandemic during the Stage 4 global travel disruption,” he said. “That had a lot of complications, but we figured it out and got them back.”

Medjet has transport coordinators who track evacuation flights.

Courtesy of Medjet

Membership starts at $ 99 for eight days of international and domestic travel coverage. People often buy memberships for “big international trips” rather than thinking of them for domestic trips, Hallman said.

“It can be just as difficult to be stuck in a hospital in five states as it is in a hospital in half the world,” Hallman said.

About half of annual transports take place after travelers have “returned safely from a long trip and then had an accident or health episode while traveling inland,” he said.

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