Corona virus delays the repatriation of sick Scandinavians
SOS International increasingly experiences challenges in the repatriation of sick and injured Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns.
The assistance organisation, which assists sick and injured Nordic travellers, has largely had to give up using regular scheduled flights to repatriate patients. For this reason, efforts are now being made to transport more patients together in air ambulances.
- We work as quickly as we can to bring home patients. Right now, our greatest challenge is that some of the air ambulance providers require testing for COVID-19 before flying with the patients. This is problematic as the test is difficult to get a hold of and getting the result takes time, says Karin Tranberg, Executive VP of the Travelcare Division.
To minimise the risk of transmission and to comply with the individual countries’ rules and regulations on entry and exit, SOS International’s medical escorts must meet with patients in the transit areas of the airports. In some instances, this calls for the local hospitals arranging for medical escort to the airport in an ambulance. Arranging this has proved difficult due to the effect of the virus on the healthcare service.
In addition, problems arise with the reception of patients on arrival in Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Finland. Hospitals in Scandinavia prefer not to receive patients from abroad who have not been tested for COVID-19.
- Fortunately, we have been able to repatriate a lot a patients over the past few days, but operating in relation cancelled flights, closed borders, possible subsequent quarantine for our medical escorts and increasing demands for patient testing is becoming an ever-greater challenge, says Karin Tranberg.
At the time of writing, SOS International is working on repatriating approximately 30 sick or injured patients.
Updated March 23: The number of sick or injured to be repatriated is now 18.