What to do if you get a COVID-19 infection on a trip


As the omicron variant of the highly contagious coronavirus continues to spread, COVID-19 is derailing travel plans left and right. And not only does it cause travel cancellations, sometimes the interruption occurs in the middle of the trip.

A Michigan teacher made headlines during the holidays after she tested positive for COVID during a transatlantic flight and then spent five hours isolated in the bathroom of an airplane.

Hopefully, this is a rare case. But there are other likely scenarios where someone gets COVID away from home. Getting the vaccine and booster provides protection against serious illness and hospitalization. But, as we have seen in recent weeks, it is very possible that he will still contract the virus and get an innovative case. And even if your symptoms are mild, you can still spread COVID to others.

This is why travelers should take action and follow the right protocols as soon as they test positive. So what to do if this happens to you during a trip? The experts then outline best practices for dealing with an innovative COVID infection during the trip.

Isolate yourself as soon as you know or suspect you have COVID.

“The current guideline is to isolate yourself for at least five days and then, if your symptoms improve or if you had no symptoms at the time of the test, wear a suitable mask for an additional five days,” Michelle said. Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth in Colorado. “If you have persistent symptoms or have not improved, you should be isolated for 10 days.”

Whether you’re traveling in the country or abroad, find a place to isolate yourself safely as soon as you test positive.

“This could be in a hotel or similar temporary accommodation, or a relative’s home,” said Karl Minges, dean of the New Haven University School of Health Sciences. “If you share a space with other people who have not been exposed or do not know their condition, it should be isolated in an area separate from the home, ideally away from others and with its own bathroom. Be sure to wear a mask and minimize contact with others. “

See local guidelines.

Although isolation is almost universally recommended, procedures may vary depending on your destination, especially if you are traveling abroad.

“Specific countries may have other protocols to follow, especially those with ‘zero COVID’ policies,” Minges said.

In fact, some countries require that those who test positive stay in specific quarantine facilities required by the government. Others offer long lists of approved places to isolate or general quarantine requirements that could apply to various places.

Even within a destination, the options may vary. A hotel can allow guests who are positive to stay and isolate themselves, while the one next door may not.

“In addition, you should make sure that you know the local or country-specific regulations related to the exit of the isolation,” Barron said. “There may be a requirement for testing.”

If you are unsure of the guidelines, please refer to the local public health website for domestic travel or the U.S. embassy website for the foreign country you are visiting. You can also contact the office directly for clarification or to resolve any other questions, such as a travel visa that may expire during your extended stay.

If you have a rapid negative test after five days of isolation and your symptoms have improved, you are clear that you will end it, according to experts.
If you have a rapid negative test after five days of isolation and your symptoms have improved, you are clear that you will end it, according to experts.

Take stock of what you need.

There are logistical considerations when it comes to quarantining away from home, such as food and medicine.

If possible, try to seclude yourself in a place with access to the restaurant or grocery delivery. Designated quarantine facilities in various countries usually offer meals (although food and accommodation may be covered).

For travelers who can stay in their original hotels, staff could help facilitate deliveries, not only for food, but also for other essentials such as medicines. If you do not have enough prescription drugs to last a long stay, there are steps you can take.

For those traveling to the country, please contact your doctor to request a top-up at a local pharmacy that offers delivery. If you are abroad, contact your pharmacist or travel medicine specialist to find out the equivalent in the country you are visiting. The US Embassy can also assist you by connecting to a trusted local pharmacy.

Please try again.

“If you test positive for COVID while traveling, whether nationally or internationally, you should isolate yourself for five days and, ideally, take a quick antigen test to end the isolation,” said Lucy McBride, MD. internal medicine in Washington, DC. is negative on day five in a person with no symptoms or resolving, the chance of infecting another person is low. “

McBride recommends that COVID patients who still have symptoms such as fever after five days of quarantine get a quick daily antigen test until they are negative before the isolation is over. However, this may not be an option for everyone.

“A major challenge with testing recommendation is the lack of access to affordable testing,” McBride said.

Laboratory delays and a shortage of home testing have caused problems during this latest increase in COVID. But if you have a quick test on hand, use it if your symptoms go away or get better after five days of isolation. For COVID-positive travelers to foreign countries, this negative result may take you home (or on your planned travel adventures) sooner, depending on the specific requirements of the tests, of course.

Keep masking.

“Current science suggests that if you are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that are improving, five days of isolation with five [additional] days of masking is enough to limit potential transmission to others, “Barron said.

He noted that “a medical grade mask” is preferable when you leave this five-day period of isolation.

Fully vaccinated people generally do not require hospital visits when they experience innovative cases. But if your symptoms worsen as you isolate yourself, mask yourself and seek out a health center.

“If someone has a persistent fever, cough or difficulty breathing, it is highly recommended that they seek medical attention,” Barron said.

Be prepared before you go anywhere.

Before making a trip in 2022, it is important to prepare for the possibility of contracting COVID-19 to make the experience as painless as possible.

“If you’re traveling, make sure you’ve checked local regulations on testing and masking so you’re prepared,” Barron said. “Also, consider what your backup plan is if you are positive and you need to isolate yourself.”

Pack enough prescription drugs to last an unexpected quarantine. Check out your hotel’s policy for positive guests, including extra nightly rates.

Create an unplanned extension in your budget or research travel insurance options that offer coverage if you need to cancel certain plans due to an innovative case. Now there are even companies that offer COVID evacuation options for international travelers.

Otherwise, be sure to follow the pandemic health guidelines (masks, vaccines, social distancing, hand washing, staying home when you feel sick) during your travels. Pay attention to the latest developments and consider the risk factors for you and your loved ones.

“Also, ask other people with whom you will travel their vaccination status so that you can do the proper risk calculation and always look for double vaccination and reinforcement if you are eligible,” Minges said.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is known or available from the publication, but the guide may change as scientists find out more about the virus. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date recommendations.

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