WHO has declared that the dreaded Zika virus has been elevated to a public health emergency and international communities are called to take action against the spread of the infection, as HNGN reported. The health agency also said travel restrictions are not yet being imposed on countries where Zika cases have been reported, but travelers, particularly pregnant women, are advised to take the necessary precautions.
If you have travel plans in any of the countries linked to Zika, how does this health crisis affect you and what can you do about it? Here's a rundown below:
Cruises: Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises and Holland America & Costa Cruises are offering rebooking for pregnant passengers, while Royal Caribbean will give refunds on a case-to-case basis, according to Cruise Critic. Pregnant passengers of Disney Cruise Lines can make changes to reservations as well, according to its website.
Airlines: American Airlines is offering refunds to pregnant women provided that they show a note from their doctor, as indicated on the website. Delta is allowing travel change dates and refunds could be given on a case-to-case basis, based on the company's advisory. United is also offering refunds or changes in travel itineraries, as advised on its site. Virgin America is asking pregnant women traveling to Mexico to contact its hotline number for their travel waiver, as posted on its travel alert. Other airlines are also offering rebooks and changes for a limited period only, according to NBC News.
Hotels: Some hotel companies are considering waiving fees for booking cancellations, but this has yet to take effect, according to The New York Times. Contact your hotel to know more and also inquire about their protocols against Zika infection. Hotel staff members in Latin American and Caribbean regions are getting educated about the Zika virus to better assist guests who have concerns. Those with vacation packages should also get in touch with their agencies for possible refunds or waiving of fees, as advised by Travel Weekly.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance companies are treating Zika like any other type of illnesses covered in the terms of the policy. If a traveler does contact the virus during his travels, he can avail of the medical care and benefits in his plan. However, cancellation of trips is not going to be covered by travel insurance, so if you have to purchase travel insurance, opt for a plan that offers a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) option, according to Forbes.
For more on taking precautions against Zika infection, read CDC Releases Guidelines For Pregnant Women, Urges Testing For Some