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Coronavirus Travel Advisory

Coronavirus Travel Advisory

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a disease that originated from a large family of viruses. It is classified as a severe acute respiratory syndrome, which was reported as an outbreak of respiratory illnesses in Wuhan, China. The illness is caused by SARS-CoV-2, which was recently termed as COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In most coronavirus cases, infected people develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without any intensive treatment. However, people with pre-existing conditions viz., diabetes, heart, lung problems, etc. and those above the age of 60 have a higher chance of contracting severe disease and death.

More than a hundred countries across the world, including India, have been afflicted by COVID-19 cases. In the interest of public safety, the Indian government has issued travel advisories with immediate effect, barring the entry of passengers from COVID-19 affected countries coming via land, sea, and air routes.

Travel Advisory

After a spike in coronavirus cases, India has acted immediately and put in place strict restrictions on inbound and outbound travel. Travel curbs and lockdowns play a critical role in controlling the spread of coronavirus.

Here is a consolidated list of essential travel advisory instructions set forth by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare:

  • Issuance of all kinds of visas stands suspended until further notice - except for diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, and project visas.
  • A visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders is kept in abeyance until further notice.
  • OCI cardholders already in India can continue to stay in the country for as long as they want.
  • Visas of foreigners already in India with a valid duration may contact the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) through the e-FRRO module for extension/conversion of their current visa status or grant of any consular service as an option.
  • In addition to existing Visa restrictions, passengers travelling from/having visited Italy or the Republic of Korea, and willing to enter India, will need to furnish a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the list of designated laboratories authorized by the health authorities of these countries.
  • All incoming travellers (including Indian nationals), arriving from or with a recent history of having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain, and Germany after February 15, 2020, shall remain under quarantine for a minimum of 14 days upon arrival in India.
  • Indian nationals are strongly advised against travelling to China, Italy, Iran, the Republic of Korea, France, Spain, and Germany.
  • All incoming international passengers returning to India must self-monitor their health, in their own self-interest. All incoming passengers must follow and subject themselves to regulatory guidelines as detailed by the Government of India.
  • International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with modern and accurate screening facilities.
  • All foreign passengers travelling to India are mandated to furnish duly filled self-declaration forms in duplicate to Health and Immigration officials. International passengers must undergo universal health screening at the designated health counters, at all points of entry.

What Will Happen to My Travel Insurance Policy?

Given the COVID-19 epidemic, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued some guidelines for insurance companies. The IRDAI, in its latest update published in the Economic Times dated April 01, 2020, has instructed insurers to permit the extension of travel insurance policies without any extra charges.

Clearly, the coronavirus outbreak has brought all economic activity to a state of standstill, and all travel insurance policyholders were left clueless amidst the enforced lockdown. Travel policyholders now have the option to defer the start/end dates of policies that have a validity between March 22, 2020, and April 2020.

Although most airlines have proactively communicated with their customers about the extension of travel dates, the travel insurance policies must incorporate the necessary change by the policyholders.

How Do I Know If I Have COVID-19?

COVID-19 is airborne, which means it can be transmitted via inhaling the air of infected people who exhale, cough, or sneeze out droplets. It is also possible to catch the infection by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with the same hands. The symptoms of coronavirus entail fever, dry cough, sore throat, aches and pains, and shortness of breath. A few rare COVID-19 cases have a runny nose, nausea, or diarrhoea. Moreover, it takes 2-14 days for the expected symptoms to surface after contraction. So even though you seem all right, you may still be carrying the disease.

Therefore, it is crucial for returning travellers to self-isolate to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus. If you recognize any of the symptoms, contact your doctor, and follow the necessary precautions.

What Precautions Can I Take After Returning From a COVID-19 Affected Country?

If you travelled to a coronavirus affected country, you must quarantine yourself at home for at least 14 days. Do not step outside your home for work, school, or any other chores. If you must step outside, wear a mask, and practice social distancing at all times. Maintain a distance of one to two meters and do not undertake rideshare cabs and public transportation.

Here are some other precautions you can take:

  • Keep a thermometer handy at home. Take temperature readings at least two times a day.
  • If you are feeling sick, call a clinic and take consultation over the phone or via a video conference with the doctor.
  • If you are feeling breathless or worried about any symptoms, call your doctor. Be sure to explain your recent travel history.

Conclusion

Economies across the world are enormously impacted by coronavirus - be it developed nations or developing ones. People across countries are subjected to intense lockdowns until the situation normalizes. The road to recovery is far, but it is definitely worth going through the quarantine restrictions.

Review your insurance policy to get the best healthcare facility in the country in case you or your loved ones are afflicted with COVID-19. Clarify all policy terms and conditions with your insurance provider, and seek the guidance of a financial adviser in choosing the appropriate healthcare plan for you and your family.

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