Coronavirus FAQs – update 9th March 2020

What is the Coronavirus

You will no doubt have seen a lot of coverage recently about the novel coronavirus. The new strain of the virus which emerged in Wuhan, China, in January is being called COVID-19 and as this is a new strain of the virus there is not much known about it and therefore the World Health Organisation, governments, and other agencies are taking precautions to limit the spread of the disease.

 

As a responsible travel provider, we are closely monitoring the situation via a range of sources to give us accurate and up-to-date information on the destinations where we operate.  Our sources include, but are not limited to, the FCO, PHE and WHO as well as local governments and our partners on the ground.

 

Will the new coronavirus affect my trip

At the time of writing, all our upcoming trips are running as planned with enhanced health and hygiene protocols. The FCO currently advise against travel to mainland China along with certain regions of South Korea, Iran and Italy. The risk in other parts of the world is currently low and has not impacted any of our other trips. We are however continuing to monitor the situation closely and will be in touch directly with any participants whose trip may be affected.

 

Once the trip has started, our well-trained Expedition Leaders will monitor the health of our participants and remain vigilant to their environment. We have in place comprehensive safety policies and procedures, that comply with BS8848, to ensure we effectively identify and respond to risks and incidents in this fluid and fast-moving situation.  Read here to learn more about the safety procedures we follow on all our trips.

 

What happens if the FCO change their travel advice

If the FCO was to change their advice to avoid all but essential travel to a country / region where our trips are run then we will be in touch with each person whose trip is affected to discuss alternative arrangements. Subject to exactly what the travel restriction is, we would either amend the itinerary to avoid the affected area or if this was not possible then we would cancel the trip. In the event of us having to cancel the trip before you depart then we would either be able to transfer you onto a different program or refund your money paid to us. In the event that the FCO updated their advice while we have groups abroad then we would follow the authorities advice.

 

For customers booked to join one of our programs at a later date, we will continue to monitor the FCO advice and make a decision closer to the date of departure once we know more about if and how the trip may be affected.

 

What if I want to cancel my trip

Should you wish to cancel your trip to a country deemed safe to travel to by the FCO then normal cancellation conditions will apply. You can check your insurance policy to see if it will cover any losses although as a general rule most insurance companies will not cover a disinclination to travel. If you are thinking of cancelling your trip over concerns of the coronavirus please contact us directly and we can discuss options with you including options to postpone or change your booking should this be possible.

 

What if I am flying from or via a country affected with Coronavirus

In an effort to try and contain the spread of the virus, some countries are restricting inbound flights from countries most affected by the virus, such as China. If you are in any doubt over whether your flights may be affected please speak with your airline or travel agent for advice and possibility of making alternative travel arrangements. Some countries are also implementing new entry restrictions for people travelling from / through coronavirus affected countries. As this is an ever evolving situation we recommend you keep up-to-date on the FCO travel advice or your own government’s travel advisory service information for the countries you are due to visit.

 

What can I do to protect myself

We recommend you take some basic precautions:

  • Take note of the most up-to-date advice to public issued on the WHO website
  • Check you have travel insurance in place and speak with your insurer about the cover in relation to any events arising from the virus
  • If you feel vulnerable in any way (eg underlying medical condition) you should visit your GP for advice and ensure you have adequate supplies of any medicines you might need and understand how to get more in the countries you are visiting.

 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns you would like to discuss please contact us at operations@gapforce.org or call us on 020 7384 3028 and we will be happy to assist

 

Best wishes,

 

The Gapforce Team

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