Corona on vacation: what to do if you test positive while traveling

DrThe shock must be significant when the rapid test shows a second streak during vacation or the official corona test shows clearly: positive. Due to the rapidly increasing number of cases caused by Omikron, infection with the Sars-CoV-2 virus is possible at any time, even while traveling.

What happens if you test positive while on vacation depends on various factors – such as which country you are in or the severity of your symptoms. It is also important whether the trip is organized by an organizer or whether you are traveling individually. Here you will find answers to the most important questions:

Who will even find out about Corona infection?

Of course, no one automatically notices anything about a self-test. But if you go to a testing station, you should expect the positive result to be reported to the authorities. Just like Germany’s Ministry of Health, says Thorsten Muth of A3M in Tübingen, a crisis information and early warning service provider for worldwide travel.

Some states require a test upon entry. If this is positive, government agencies are usually reported directly. According to Torsten Moth, this is the case in Thailand and Abu Dhabi.

If the corona test is positive, the measurements vary greatly depending on the holiday destination

Source: dpa-tmn / Hauke-Christian Dittrich

“Then I may have to go into state-controlled quarantine,” says the travel expert. Usually this can only be avoided or shortened by a negative aura test. So here’s the risk of missing out on vacation — or at least part of it.

According to Moth, states treat a positive official test differently during the holiday. In Spain, for example, there were hotlines that those affected should contact, the expert reported. In Portugal, the authorities contacted one. But those who have officially tested themselves and provided only their email addresses are usually difficult to track down by the authorities.

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On a positive self-test, Moth suspects, “You’re likely to fall through the cracks.” In some countries, people who show symptoms are only advised to self-isolate. Formal testing is often not possible if follow-up capabilities are insufficient due to the large number of cases. So how to deal with a positive test result is often a matter of conscience.

Who will take care of me if the test result is positive?

It is unlikely that many travelers who have received a positive self-test result have had any contact with the authorities. Anyone booking a package vacation is primarily responsible for the trip organizer.

The organizers are guided by the requirements of the destination country. TUI, for example, says it accommodates guests who have tested positive in Turkey, Greece and Italy in a private hotel suite or quarantine hotel. In Spain, Austria and Germany, on the other hand, a guest can stay in his room for quarantine.

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Organizer Studiosus from Munich assures that affected guests will be isolated and “comprehensive care”. “For example, we make sure our guest gets enough food,” says Commissioner Edwin Doldy. Rebooking flights are also taken care of, should they become necessary.

What should I do if I am traveling alone?

“Of course, we advise you to isolate yourself constantly,” says Thorsten Muth. The place for this is usually the hotel room. How to get your food is one of the first questions to be answered, and one that families in particular ask. “Basic supply must be ensured,” says the expert. “If I have no other choice, I will inform the hotel.” Then the hotel usually puts the food in front of the door.

How long do I have to officially be in quarantine?

This varies from country to country. The trend is generally towards shorter quarantine periods – fourteen to ten or seven days, for example. “Sweden and Greece, for example, only set five days,” Moth says. “That makes a huge difference. If I’m somewhere for three weeks, 14 days of quarantine is great, but I can sit for five days.”

Can I leave my room with a mask?

Some might think to themselves: I don’t put anyone on a walk alone at risk, even if they test positive. And getting food from a street vendor wouldn’t be that bad either.

Travel doctor Professor Thomas Jelinek from Berlin explains: “You can infect everyone you come into contact with.” Even if the risk of outdoor transmission using a mask is very low, Jelinek advises against exceptions: “You can never be absolutely sure what’s going on on the street.” Unexpected connections can always happen.

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This means that it is better to constantly maintain self-isolation. Clarification is needed with the hotel when cleaning the room. Because then you don’t have to be in the room.

Will I be prosecuted if I break the quarantine?

Thorsten Muth says anyone who violates applicable quarantine requirements can be subject to prosecution. In most countries, offenses are regulated by law and can be expensive for those on vacation.

In Switzerland, for example, the fine for violating quarantine requirements can be up to 5,000 Swiss francs. A high price to pay for a quick trip to the supermarket.

The question is, of course, who is aware of such behavior. Here, however, Moth advises caution: “Even if quarantines are not strictly controlled in some countries, controls can still occur.”

What do I do when it’s time for the return flight?

When in doubt, the holiday is involuntarily extended. This also applies to unvaccinated persons whose mandatory test is positive upon return from a high-risk area.

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Additional costs for new flights and additional hotel nights on site may be covered by our Covid travel insurance. Tour operators such as TUI offer such insurance up to a certain maximum, some of which is included in the reservation.

How do I prepare for a serious illness?

Omicron infection is not always mild. If a hospital stay is necessary, it can quickly become expensive. Good health insurance for travel abroad, which also covers corona disease, protects vacationers from high costs here.

When am I no longer contagious?

Of course, it is important that you do not experience any symptoms of the disease. Then the question is: When is the test ultimately negative? “You must be symptom-free for two days before you can have the test again,” advises travel medicine specialist Jelinek. Then the probability that the test is negative increases dramatically.

Important here: even with a very weak second line in the result field, there is still a positive line in case of doubt. In general, according to Jellinek: “You are especially contagious in the first few days of illness.” As the disease progresses, the viral load decreases significantly.

More tips and information:

The European Consumer Center Germany provides an overview of the costs of corona tests in Europe on its website.

The Federal Department of State provides updated information on the security situation and entry requirements on its website.

The Robert Koch Institute provides an overview of the identification of international risk areas on its website.

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Source: WORLD / Merle Giesel

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