Quarantined Far From Home
By Jason Jourdan
What happens if a traveler tests positive for COVID-19 while abroad? Vacationers receiving less-than-desired results may be required to isolate and delay their return to the United States. Scoring a positive for COVID-19 means finding a place to recover during the quarantine period. Some hotels offer complimentary rooms for COVID-positive guests of up to 14 nights, while others allow extended stays at discounted rates. Both options ban sequestered guests from using hotel facilities outside their room.
With the potentially high costs associated with an unwanted 14-day trip extension, travel agents recommend finding accommodations that cover some or all costs for guests who test positive.Hotels in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic are currently making complimentary and reduced rate programs available to their guests.
Those with the mark of the plus sign abroad are not permitted to re-enter the United States until they can present a negative test result within 72 hours of boarding a commercial flight. These requirements could make locating testing and alternate flight arrangements difficult.
Once again, the Hospitality Industry steps up by providing guests with free on-site rapid coronavirus testing. Hilton Hotels recently announced rates of $65 for a rapid COVID-19 test and $185 for the more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department have made it clear passengers attempting to board flights into the United States without a minus sign result will not be permitted to enter the country.
The State Department will not be offering medical assistance to Americans with plus signs or access to coronavirus tests abroad due to the limited availability of medical resources outside the country. Americans who become sick or stranded can’t rely on a U.S. Embassy to assist them beyond a by-country directory of testing facilities posted on the official website.
As for vaccines, the CDC is stating passengers will not be considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after a second dose in the duel series provided by Pfizer or Moderna. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine's recent U.S. recall leaves these two options as travelers' only means of obtaining vaccinated status.
The CDC also recommends delaying international travel until travelers can receive the vaccination. Those who must travel beforehand should take the following steps for unvaccinated passengers.
Given these requirements, travel agents advise clients to plan for the dread plus sign test by purchasing third-party travel insurance to assist with the coverage of COVID-related incidents and costs associated with quarantine or additional testing.
Vacationers should consult an experienced travel insurance provider about which international travel policies cover medical expenses associated with quarantining abroad. Policy costs will vary on factors like age, destination, and desired coverage. Point Comfort® provides international passengers piece-of-mind with benefits for a range of travel contingencies, including:
- COVID-19 Medical Expense Coverage up to Maximum Benefit
- Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation
- Emergency Medical Reunion
- Return of Minor Child
- Local Burial or Cremation