With the increasing number of local Covid-19 cases – over 10 000 in the past 24 hours – we need to be mindful that the pandemic is not on vacation. The statistics are worrying. South Africans need to shake off their Covid-fatigue and get back to making informed choices about their wellbeing and adhering to the protocols: Wear a mask when you leave your home, sanitise and socially distance – if we want to flatten the second wave curve, especially over the holiday season.
We have also been asked to remember the 3 Cs: Avoid crowds, confined spaces and close contact.
Bonitas Medical Fund, says, ‘Internationally many countries are reinforcing lockdown rules as the cases spiral, with reports too of coronavirus symptoms changing. Some medical practitioners are also saying the second wave is even more dangerous than the first.
‘Over the past month, within our membership community, we have seen an increase in the number of tests, the percentage of positive results, people requiring treatment and those being hospitalised. Through our free virtual consultations we have noted an increase in non-members consulting with doctors around the pandemic, with our call centre load having also increased.’
Here are some tips for travel during the festive season whether within our borders, to neighbouring states or abroad.
Medical aid card
Remember to carry your medical aid card and details with you. In the case of an emergency, it will streamline the process of getting care quickly or being admitted to hospital. Bonitas also advises that you put the Covid-19 emergency hotline (0800 029 999) or call centre number (0860 002 108) into your mobile phone so it is at hand.
Bonitas continues to offer free virtual consultations to all South Africans – not just its members – until 31 December 2020. If you are on holiday and concerned about your health, download the Bonitas Virtual Care App and make an appointment. The doctor will engage with you in a virtual video consultation wherever you are. The consultation includes any medical issue, Covid-19 or unrelated and advice on the most clinically appropriate steps for further care. These consults are available 24/7.
Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise
Pack your own soap and sanitiser. The hospitality industry has stringent health and safety protocols in place and most establishments have enhanced their deep cleaning regimes. However, it is still recommended that you keep your sanitiser with you always.
If you are taking a road trip, make sure you have waterless soap and sanitiser in the car and limit your pit stops without compromising on taking the necessary rest breaks. Perhaps pack a picnic, to avoid crowded fast food outlets and restaurants on the main routes.
Remember that if you are leaving the country and crossing a border you will need to produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test and will also complete a travel health questionnaire.
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has warned South Africans travelling abroad to make sure they know what the respective countries’ Covid-19 protocols are to avoid being stranded – various countries have different protocols and some have also introduced new stricter lockdown measures. She has urged travellers to familiarise themselves with the immigration and health entry requirements of the country they are visiting, as well as South Africa’s re-entry health requirement upon their return. If you are uncertain, contact the local embassy for clarification or the Department of Health.
Alert your medical aid
It is important that you notify your medical aid scheme ahead of any international travel. Firstly, to check what medical conditions will be covered and, secondly to activate the international medical travel cover.
Travel insurance policies
Medical expenses that you might encounter when travelling in Africa or other international destinations can be prohibitively expensive. To avoid having your holiday and finances totally ruined, look at what your current medical aid scheme offers in terms of medical travel cover and, if necessary, top this up with additional travel insurance.
Carry your policies
Travel insurance policies give detailed information about what to do in an emergency situation and have international call centres to assist you. Make sure everyone in the family has these numbers handy.
The claiming process
Most medical insurance requires an invoice as well as the proof of payment or receipt in order for them to reimburse you. Make sure you are familiar with the claim process.
‘One thing 2020 has taught us, is that life is unpredictable. And although additional, tougher lockdown regulations were recently announced in an effort to curb the second wave of Covid-19 infections, the burden of responsibility remains with each and every one of us,’ says Bonitas.
‘There are real concerns around the current rate of transmission, not only in South Africa but globally. In order to minimise your risks and to stay healthy and safe these holidays we all need to do our bit and stick to the protocols.’