Corona on vacation: what to do if you test positive when travelling

Dhe shock should be great when the rapid test shows a second line while on vacation or the official corona test clearly shows: positive. In view of the rapidly increasing number of cases caused by Omikron, infection with Sars-CoV-2 is possible at any time, even when travelling.

What happens if you test positive while on vacation depends on various factors – such as which country you are in or the severity of the 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 my corona infection?

Of course, nobody automatically notices anything about the self-test. “But if you go to a test station, you have to expect that the positive result will be reported to the authorities. Just like the health department in Germany,” says Thorsten Muth from the Tübingen company A3M, a service provider for crisis and early warning information for travel worldwide.

Some countries require a test immediately after entry. If this is positive, government agencies are usually informed directly. According to Thorsten Muth, this is the case in Thailand and Abu Dhabi.

If the corona test is positive, the measures differ significantly depending on the holiday destination

Source: dpa-tmn/Hauke-Christian Dittrich

“Then I may have to go into state-controlled quarantine,” says the travel professional. This can usually only be avoided or shortened by a negative corona test. So here is the risk of missing the holiday – or at least part of it.

According to Muth, the countries deal differently with a positive official test during the holiday. In Spain, for example, there were hotlines that those affected should call, reports the expert. In Portugal, one was contacted by the authorities. But those who have themselves officially tested and only provide their e-mail address can usually hardly be traced by the authorities.

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With a positive self-test, you “possibly just fall through the cracks,” Muth suspects. In some countries, people with symptoms are only advised to isolate themselves. An official test is often not possible if the follow-up capacities are insufficient due to the large number of cases. How to deal with the positive test result is therefore often a question of conscience.

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

Many travelers with a positive self-test result are unlikely to have any contact with the authorities. Anyone who has booked a package holiday is primarily responsible for the tour operator.

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 special wing of the hotel or in a quarantine hotel. In Spain, Austria and Germany, on the other hand, the guest can stay in his room for quarantine.

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Destinations, prices, insurance

The organizer Studiosus from Munich assures that affected guests would be isolated and “comprehensively looked after”. “For example, we make sure that our guest gets enough food,” says authorized officer Edwin Doldi. Flight rebookings are also taken care of, should these become necessary.

What do I do if I’m traveling individually?

“Of course, we advise you to isolate yourself consistently,” 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, which families in particular ask themselves. “The basic supply must be guaranteed,” says the expert. “If I have no other choice, I’ll inform the hotel.” The hotel then usually puts food in front of the door.

How long do I have to be officially in quarantine?

This differs per country. The trend is generally towards shorter quarantine times – from fourteen to ten or seven days, for example. “Sweden and Greece, for example, have only prescribed five days,” says Muth. “That makes a big difference. If I’m somewhere for three weeks, 14 days of quarantine is awesome, but I can sit out five days.”

Can I leave my room with a mask?

Some people may think: I am not endangering anyone on a walk all alone, even if I have tested positive. And getting food from a street vendor won’t be that bad either.

Travel doctor Prof. Thomas Jelinek from Berlin clears this up: “You can infect everyone you are in contact with.” Even if the risk of transmission outdoors with a mask may be very low, Jelinek advises against exceptions: “You can never quite sure what is happening out on the street.” Unpredictable contacts can always occur.

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This means that self-isolation is best maintained consistently. There is a need for clarification with the hotel when the room is cleaned. Because then you shouldn’t be in the room.

Am I liable to prosecution if I break the quarantine?

Thorsten Muth says that anyone who violates the applicable quarantine requirements can be liable to prosecution. In most countries, violations are regulated by law and could be expensive for vacationers.

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

The question is, of course, who is aware of such actions. Here, however, Muth advises caution: “Even if the quarantine is not strictly controlled in some countries, controls can still occur.”

What do I do when my return flight is due?

In case of doubt, the holiday is then extended involuntarily. This also applies to unvaccinated people whose mandatory test comes back positive when they return from a high-risk area.

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The extra costs for new flights and additional hotel nights on site can be covered with special Covid travel insurance. Tour operators such as TUI offer such insurance up to a certain maximum amount, some of which is included with the booking.

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. A good health insurance for travel abroad, which also covers an illness with Corona, protects holidaymakers from high costs here.

When am I no longer contagious?

Of course, it is important that you no longer have any symptoms of illness. And then the question is: when will the test finally be negative? “You should be symptom-free for two days before you can be tested again,” advises travel medicine specialist Jelinek. Then the probability increases significantly that the test is negative.

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

More tips and information:

The European Consumer Center Germany provides an overview of the costs for corona tests in Europe on his home page.

The Federal Foreign Office provides up-to-date information on the security situation and entry requirements on his home page.

The Robert Koch Institute offers an overview of the designation of international risk areas on his home page.

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Source: WORLD / Merle Giesel

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