Expat Focus International Healthcare Update April 2022
Indonesia drops Covid-19 test for foreign travellers
Like many other countries, Indonesia has recently dropped mandatory Covid-19 testing for incoming travellers. Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan says that air travel is still significantly disrupted by the pandemic and that dropping the test requirement will result in an increase in the number of incoming flights, without such a build-up at airports. The government will be opening up international arrivals at Yogyakarta, Medan Kuala Namu, and Makassar Sultan Hasanuddin airports.
However, airports are still running temperature checks, and travellers still need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test result valid within 48 hours of their departure. You’ll also still be required to take a Covid-19 PCR test if you have a high temperature (over 37.5 Celsius).
Abu Dhabi is also easing restrictions on incoming travellers and dropping the Green List system. However, they are keeping the PCR testing system at the airport, in case you want to pay for a test in order to activate your Green Pass on the Al Hosn app – this is still needed to enter some restaurants, malls and hotels. If you don’t have a Green Pass, some indoor venues will accept a Covid-19 recovery certificate. You won’t need a facemask outside, but it’s still required in indoor venues. Social distancing, however, has been scrapped.
In the EU, member states say they are now applying a person-based approach, rather than placing restrictions on nationals from particular countries. They are still using the EU Digital COVID Certificate, and relying on negative tests, Covid-19 recovery certificates, and proof of vaccination.
In the UK, Covid-19 restrictions on travel were removed on the 18th March. The UK government says that no-one entering the UK will need to take tests or complete a passenger locator form. Unvaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a test. In addition, hotel quarantine has been fully stood down from the end of March, and contingency plans put in place to manage any future variants of concern (VoCs). This makes the UK one of the first major economies to end all Covid-19 international travel rules.
The Department of Health says that 8 out of 10 British national adults have now been vaccinated, with the booster programme continuing. Those at the top of the list for age and infirmity are already eligible for the roll-out of booster number four, so if you’re coming into the UK and are entitled to healthcare under the NHS, check the NHS site for booster stations near you.
Hong Kong’s ‘Covid divide’
CNN reported in April that there is an evident ‘Covid divide’ between expats and locals. One migrant worker from the Philippines told the news channel that she had been forced to leave her place of work – her employers’ home – on testing positive. Domestic workers are obliged to live in the family home, but Maria’s employer told her that due to the presence of children in the house, she could not come back, and the local hospital had no room. She ended up on the street, but was then fortunately swept up by a local charity, HELP for Domestic Workers.
We have reported before that Hong Kong is seeing an expat exodus, partially a result of the city state’s zero Covid-19 policy, and this is ongoing: 94,000 expats left HKSAR last month alone. Mandarin Oriental CEO James Riley told the Financial Times that Hong Kong is becoming a ‘very poor base’ for operations. FedEx is shutting down its crew base in Hong Kong, and spirits manufacturer Pernod Ricard is one of a number of companies asking its personnel to work from abroad. CNN estimates that 84 major companies have now either closed entirely or pulled out of Hong Kong since the pandemic began, including German chemicals giant BASF, who are among those companies relocating to Singapore.
Financial sector commentators say that bankers may be waiting for bonus day before deciding whether to make a move. And headhunters have described it as ‘nigh on impossible’ to lure overseas talent into the region, saying that candidates are pricing in the inconvenience of living in the city into their salary demands. Covid-19 continues to hit Hong Kong hard, and not just when it comes to health.
Australia sees ‘huge’ return of local talent post pandemic
A recent survey suggests that 65% of Australian expats are intending to return home after the pandemic, either soon or within the next few years, according to global leadership firm Russell Reynolds Associates. 61% of the 729 respondents to the survey said that they occupied senior roles; a significant number of directors and senior managers are thus due to return to Australia. Personnel experts suggest that this can only benefit the recovery of the Australian economy. The majority of returnees have settled in New South Wales, and have already found employment. The primary reason for returning home was proximity to family and friends.
Saudi Arabia consolidates ‘Digital Door’
The International Medical Center in Jeddah has published further details of its ‘Digital Door’ scheme, which aims to give patients increased access to services and greater control. They have developed three apps: My IMC App, Women’s Health App, and IMC Doc. All of these allow patients round the clock access to making appointments, changing or cancelling appointments, and accessing their medical records, such as test results. Your test will come back through the app, when requested, in the form of a Smart Report, which will contain your results, but which will also have notes to help you understand them.
The Women’s Health App provides a service for expectant mothers, allowing you to track your progress from ‘preconception to planning, weekly pregnancy follow-up, fetal development, childbirth, breastfeeding, and childcare.’
Restrictions on health insurance lifted in Kuwait
Restrictions on health insurance for employees of listed companies who are over 60 have now been lifted. Personnel can now sign up with all companies approved and qualified by the Insurance Regulatory Unit.
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