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The Covid-19 impact on travel and expat medical insurance

04 February 2020



Both travellers and expats are naturally very concerned about the impact the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is having globally.

If you are a traveller or living and working overseas find out what you need to know about the virus, travel and expat medical insurance.

What Is A Coronavirus And What Do Travelers Need To Know?

A coronavirus is classified as a common virus that causes an infection in your nose, chest, sinuses, and upper throat. Though some can cause lower respiratory illness – worrisome for seniors, babies, and those with weakened immune systems – most coronaviruses are not dangerous. However, in early January 2020, the World Health Organization identified a new type: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, China.

The Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) now named covid-19 is believed to have originated in animals before being transmitted to humans. It now spreads between humans primarily through infected secretions, like the droplets of moisture found in a sneeze. In similar fashion to other dangerous coronaviruses, including MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrom) and SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrom) at its most serious, covid-19 causes pneumonia, is resistant to antibiotic treatment and can result in death. However, at present, it is thought to be milder than MERS and SARS and symptoms take longer to develop.

Whilst covid-19 is believed to have originated in animals and possibly initially spread through markets where meat was processed and sold, it is not currently felt that it is spread through household pets such as cats and dogs. There are some strains of Coronaviruses that pets can catch and the infections can become severe. However, these kinds of viruses do not appear to spread to humans.

How Serious Is covid-19?

At present, the fatality rate for covid-19 is lower than that for MERS and SARS. At the time of writing there has been a total of 4,610 confirmed cases of covid-19 in mainland China with the human death toll standing at 106. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed five cases in four states (Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington) and an additional 73 other cases remain under investigation.

Not all cases are serious. Patients typically experience a mild cough for about a week, followed by shortness of breath. It is this shortness of breath that has led patients to go to the hospital. An estimated 15% to 20% of cases are considered severe, requiring intervention such as ventilation in the hospital. Thankfully, however, most of the time symptoms go away on their own with rest, hydration, and treatment with over the counter decongestants and fever medication.

Like all coronaviruses, those most vulnerable to covid-19 are senior citizens, infants and babies, and those with compromised immune systems such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer.

What Are The Coronavirus Symptoms?

Symptoms of covid-19 include fever, breathing difficulty and congestion. Having chest X-rays will demonstrate bilateral lung infiltrates. In severe cases, covid-19 can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.

What Distinguishes Covid-19 Symptoms from Other Common Ailments?

Early stages of infection are similar to other kinds of coronavirus. However, if you have the symptoms of acute respiratory illness during or after travel, you should seek medical attention and share your travel history with your doctor. The same applies to people who haven’t traveled but have been in contained areas with a large number of people for example airports, public areas, shopping plaza's, concert halls and sports venues.

If you are concerned in any way regarding your medical insurance please use the button below to get in touch.

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