COVID, Travel, Wellness

Business Travel Post-COVID-19: Protecting Employees From Infectious Diseases

Author Chandana Balasubramanian , 07-Dec-2021

One million people were infected in the first three months after COVID-19 was detected, and 50,000 died. In six months, 10 million were infected, and more than 500,000 were dead [1]. These grim numbers bring home the fact that an emerging infection in one region can spread across the world into a full-blown pandemic in just a few months.

 

Though the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants have been contained in some countries, outbreaks continue to surface in others. While travel trickled down to a minimum in 2020 and 2021, international travel is expected to pick up again.

 

According to data from International SOS, international trip volumes are growing 10% each month, and domestic travel has increased 7x the amount since the pandemic first began [3].

 

However, the world of business travel has forever changed.

 

Keeping Traveling Employees Safe From Infectious Disease in a post-COVID-19 World

 

“Our team uses GIDEON to get credible data to compile information about outbreaks and understand whether a disease is endemic or not in an area.”
– Prabha Xaxa, MD, Deputy Medical Director at International SOS

 

Before COVID-19, employees who had to travel for work would not hesitate to jump on a flight at a moment’s notice. But now, in the wake of a global pandemic, business travelers are experiencing some hesitancy. An October 2021 survey by the Morning Consult group found that 39% of business travelers predicted they would not travel again [2].

Others who are willing to travel for work want to know that their employers have updated their ‘Duty of Care’ regarding health and travel away from home. After all, during the pandemic, the threat of a new virus was coupled with travel restrictions, nationwide lockdowns, expensive mandatory quarantine requirements, and high levels of fear and uncertainty from being stranded. Several countries are also dealing with protests and volatile civil disobedience that can erupt suddenly due to public health policies.

Because of these issues, companies like International SOS, experts in international security threat protection, added global health risk management as part of their services.

 

Employers are Leveraging GIDEON’s Credible and Timely Data on Outbreaks to Protect Workers with a Traveling Workplace

 

International SOS helps organizations protect their global business travelers and expatriate employees from health and security threat risks. They offer over 11,000 experts in over 1,000 global locations to provide round-the-clock support.

International SOS partnered with GIDEON to get access to a detailed history of outbreaks around the world, cross-border events, and easy-to-compare disease-specific charts on prevalence, incidence, and mortality rates. The company and their clients needed updated epidemiological data, like the comprehensive information found in the GIDEON infectious diseases database.

Tracking COVID-19 outbreaks is only one step of the puzzle. Many other infectious disease pathogens have the power to infect new shores. For example, Dengue is not restricted to tropical countries anymore. Dengue cases have been reported in the United States and other new high-risk countries. In July 2021, monkeypox found its way to the United States from across the globe. Through GIDEON, International SOS also gets access to information about the epidemiology of potential biothreats like Anthrax.

Organizations cannot rely on business travelers reporting symptoms of an infectious disease before taking action or offering support. Incubation periods can take anywhere from a day to a month or more. Meanwhile, unsuspecting employees may continue to travel and risk their health and that of everyone they meet.

We live in a global economy and cannot isolate ourselves from other states and countries for long. As corporate travel begins to ramp up, one thing is certain – employers need to offer greater protection and support to their domestic and overseas travelers.

References
[1]National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , “COVID-19, MERS & SARS,” NIH, 20 10 2021. [Online] [Accessed 25 11 2021].
[2]International SOS, “ENABLING SAFE TRAVEL IN A COVID-19 WORLD,” International SOS, 2021. [Online][Accessed 25 11 2021].
[3]Morning Consult, “For Business Travel, a ‘Return to Normal’ Will Never Happen,” Morning Consult, 18 11 2021. [Online][Accessed 25 11 2021].
Author
Chandana Balasubramanian

Chandana Balasubramanian is an experienced healthcare executive who writes on the intersection of healthcare and technology. She is the President of Global Insight Advisory Network, and has a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

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