(INDIANAPOLIS) - With the recent emergence of several new human viruses, including a SARS-like coronavirus originating in Saudi Arabia, International Medical Group®, Inc. (IMG®), a worldwide leader in designing, distributing and administering global health care benefits, is addressing concerns from international travelers and customers.
Since the 2003 SARS outbreak, in which the virus claimed more than 900 lives worldwide, awareness and concern throughout the international community regarding viral infections and communicable diseases has been on the rise. Moreover, with recent reports of several new viruses affecting human populations, many international travelers are worried. However according to Dr. Jon Hart, Chief Medical Officer at Akeso Care Management®, Inc. (ACM®), IMG’s in-house URAC accredited, medical management service division, the international medical community has vastly improved its detection of and response to diseases of this nature, since the SARS outbreak. In 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) drafted new International Health Regulations that require participating countries to immediately report disease outbreaks to the WHO, and to develop detailed plans-of-action and response capacities.
“Even with improved international coordination and communication, there are still some commonsense tips that can help travelers prepare for a trip and possibly prevent illness while traveling,” said Dr. Hart. “Practicing good hygiene is one of the most important measures. Washing your hands, avoiding close contact with others who are sick, and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; are all considered good standards of care and basic steps travelers can take to avoid illness.”
IMG and ACM offered the following additional tips:
- Review current travel warnings and recommended vaccinations for different countries. www.healthmap.org/en/ is an informational site that lists current warnings and communicable disease information.
- Keep your medicines with you at all times. Do not check them in your luggage and do not leave them out in the open in your hotel room.
- If there is any question about the quality of the local water - don’t drink it.
- Review your domestic health insurance policy to determine if you are covered for accidents and illnesses outside of your home country. If you are not, consider purchasing a travel medical insurance policy with the appropriate benefits based on your travel plans.
- Know your policy’s emergency travel assistance number.
IMG recommends that any of its members seeking treatment outside of the U.S., utilize its International Provider AccessSM (IPA) database, a network that includes more than 17,000 physicians and facilities worldwide. The network can be accessed via IMG’s customer portal, MyIMGSM, and users can search by physician, facility, specialty or location.
Dr. Hart added that IMG and ACM will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and the impact it is having on the international community, but in the meantime according to the World Health Organization (WHO), international border closures are not recommended and there are no disease related travel restrictions at this time.