CORONAVIRUS: What you need to know about travelling whilst the coronavirus continues to spread.

The Coronavirus is spreading rapidly with thousands of new cases being reported each day, the most recent being discovered in Italy. With this in mind, the Irish Travel Agent Association are advising holidaymakers and travellers to be vigilant on their travels and for those booking holidays to be mindful that the virus is spreading beyond China to many holiday destinations.

Travellers are being reminded that it is important to have appropriate comprehensive travel insurance in place to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation and to follow advice of local authorities, taking all preventative measures recommended. The Department of Foreign Affairs have advised to download the DFA Travelwise smartphone app that provides specific travel health advice for individual countries.

It is important to note that some standard travel policys may automatically exclude cover where a policyholder travels against the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the World Health Organisation. Cancellation and Curtailment sections may also exclude cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from travel arrangements affected by or contributed to, or by order of any government or public/local authority.

If you are currently travelling in any of the affected regions in Italy -Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) or Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo) you are advised to follow all advise being given by the state authorities.

Policyholders who had purchased travel insurance and travelled before the FCO issued its advice on 25 February 2020 should be covered as normal while in the affected regions of Italy.

Any customers with cancellation or curtailment claims arising under valid policies incepted before 25 February 2020 with pre-booked travel and accommodation to one of the listed towns above, booked prior to 25 February 2020 will be considered under the normal terms and conditions. Policyholders will need to provide their original booking confirmation alongside evidence of cancellation costs and any refunds.

For customers who have booked to travel to one of the affected towns after 25 February 2020, these claims will be excluded as these were booked after the date the FCO advised against travel.

Policyholders who had booked their trip via a tour operator or travel agent or using a credit card should contact them to see if they can get a refund or have their trip re-arranged.

For all those travelling it is important to remember how fast the Coronavirus is now spreading and to take all precautions possible.

What to do to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands – soap or hand gel can kill the virus
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing – ideally with a tissue – and wash your hands afterwards, to prevent the virus spreading
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – if your hands touch a surface contaminated by the virus, this could transfer it into your body
  • Don’t get too close to people coughing, sneezing or with a fever – they can propel small droplets containing the virus into the air – ideally, keep at least 1m away

Anyone experiencing symptoms, even if mild, after travelling from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days, is advised to stay indoors and call the NHS 111 phone service.

If you have returned from the following specific areas since February 19, you should call NHS 111 and stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms:

  • Iran
  • lockdown areas in northern Italy
  • special care zones in South Korea
  • Hubei province

If you have you have returned from the following areas since February 19 and develop symptoms – even mild ones – stay indoors, avoid contact with others and call NHS 111:

  • Northern Italy (above but not including Pisa, Florence and Rimini)
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar

If you are unsure about the travelling regulations it is advised that you contact the World Health Organisiation, Foreign and Commonwealth Office or local state authorities for your destination as well as your travel provider and contact your travel insurer for all cover details.

Please note all advice is subject to travel destination, travel provider and travel insurance provider.

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