Medical Repatriations during Covid-19

Medical Repatriations during Covid-19

Recently Alliance International Medical Services worked in tandem with Medical Repatriations UK who owing to Covid-19 Travel restrictions were not themselves able to carry out this repatriation. An Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) and a Non-Medical Escort (NME) flew to the United Kingdom to repatriate a South African patient and her son back to South Africa.

A Female South African citizen needed assistance so she could return to South Africa where her son could better take care of her. After living in the UK for over 20 years her husband passed away and soon after she suffered a severe stroke leaving her in need of medical care and continuous daily assistance.

The repatriation was unique in its own way because of how Covid-19 has changed the operations of international travel. The first challenge when arriving in Germany the protocols were found to be much stricter with intense scrutiny of all documents and the medical equipment with the team, to the extent that the airport police arrived to ensure that the portable oxygen concentrator (POC) was not an incendiary device!

On arrival in the UK the ECP and NME were unable to leave the airport as if they entered the United Kingdom they would be required to quarantine for 10 days. The repatriation remained in transit for a period of 9 hours, the airport itself had the distinct feeling of a ghost town with many of the shops and lounges closed and very few people about.

The team encountered another obstacle when trying to board their next flight out of the United Kingdom. Germany had recently changed its protocols and now required a 48-hour valid Covid-19 test whereas the team had the standardized 72-hour valid PCR test. This meant that the Repatriation team were not permitted to board the plane and had to find and re-book their flights with another airline.

A flight was found for the team as well as the patient and her son on Ethiopian Airlines later that evening. Changes like this add undue stress and pressure to the situation for everyone involved. Nonetheless after changing the route the team managed to get the patient and her son safely back to Cape Town.

From the airport they then escorted the patient in an ambulance to her home.
The repatriation team seeing the family’s happiness and joy was something special making their job all the more worthwhile.

We wish the patient and her family happiness and good health.

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