Overseas coronavirus test reassurance from chief medical officer
Bermuda’s top doctor has assured people who have to travel overseas for medical treatment that they will be able to get coronavirus tests before they return to the island.
Ayoola Oyinloye, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, said several options were available.
He added: “Multiple providers can do online tests with a 48- to 72-hour turn around.”
He highlighted that retailer Costco also offered a test service.
Dr Oyinloye said: “If the patient orders this test kit online ahead of needing it – and have it sent to the hotel, for example – they can produce and mail the sample 72 hours before coming to Bermuda and they will get the result in time.”
He added: “Bermuda currently accepts rapid – closed platform – PCR tests as a preflight test.”
He was speaking after cancer patient Randy Cooper, who must travel to the US regularly, complained about problems getting a test inside the five day time frame required under Bermuda Covid-19 regulations.
Mr Cooper has to travel to the Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre in Burlington, Massachusetts four times a year for check-ups.
But the hospital has restricted its on-site PCR test service to patients who are scheduled for surgery, have Covid-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus.
Mr Cooper said: “The PCR tests we looked into took three to five working days to come back. With the five-day expiry time it is difficult.
“If you could get your results back on Saturdays and Sundays it wouldn’t be a problem.
“Keep in mind we have to book our flights around getting it. I felt stressed and worried about it.”
Mr Cooper said he had now found a laboratory in Massachusetts that can provide same day results – but he was still worried about other people who might hit problems.
Mr Cooper said he had concerns for older patients who may not be mobile or familiar with technology.
He added: “When I first went up there it was intimidating for us.”
Bermuda insurance companies said people who had to travel for medical reasons should contact them for advice before they flew out.
Michelle Jackson, of BF&M’s life and health department, said: “Our case management teams are fully informed of the travel and testing requirements set out by our government.
“They typically work with patients, advocating on their behalf and working with facilities and hospitals to accommodate our local requirements.”
Ms Jackson added that if a customer missed a flight because of a delayed coronavirus test result, the firm would pay for accommodation and other costs.
She said that BF&M would also cover out of pocket expenses for tests for clients in hospital overseas up to the cost of $300 per test.
A spokeswoman for the Coralisle Group added: “Any medically-necessary services are covered as per the member's benefit plan.
She said: “CG Insurance covers overseas Covid-19 testing if a member is referred overseas for medical care.
“Additionally, we cover travel and per diem expenses for overseas care as needed according to the member's specific benefit plan.”
She said CG told clients that Lahey only offered restricted PCR test services.
The spokeswoman added: “The international office at Lahey has assured us that they are providing a list of companies in their area that can test within the time constraints.”
A spokeswoman for Argus said: “We encourage our members to review their health plan benefits and coverage details and contact us should they have any questions.
“Our Argus-owned overseas care provider, One Team Health, offers concierge services and support for Argus Health members who require overseas treatment.”
She added that Argus had set up a Covid-19 Resource Centre at http://www.argus.bm/coronavirus with information on coverage and Covid-19-associated services in Bermuda and overseas.
Travellers to Bermuda have been able to use a self-test kit, sold through Costco, since last December.
Customers can buy the test kits online and at stores.
The test must be taken with a virtual observation of the sample collection.
It should be dropped off at a branch of courier firm UPS for overnight delivery or left for a UPS driver to collect.