If you were hopeful that the Coronavirus would blow over, then you will be highly disappointed. As of March 12, 2020, the virus shows no signs of abating as the hysteria increases tenfold with ever new death and case. With people running to the stores to stock up on the “essentials” such as toilet paper, what could possibly go wrong?
All kidding aside, whether or not the Virus becomes more serious, many industries such as anything travel related (Airlines, Hotels, Resorts, Car Rentals, etc.), restaurants, theaters, sporting events are being affected to the extreme. All of these have one issue in common, and that is the proximity to others who could be infected and the chance of catching the virus.
How is the Medical Tourism Industry being Affected?
Unfortunately, the Medical Tourism industry has a lot going against it in this virus climate. If we take the industry as a whole, you will see that the implications could run deep and hurt or bankrupt many clinics. Remember that the medical tourism consists of many procedures and not just cosmetic surgery. Many individuals will travel for serious medical procedures which they can not undergo in their own country.
With the Coronavirus hitting the elderly and individuals who have a weakened immune system, those who are travelling to another country for non-elective procedure are very vulnerable. These are the people that need to keep travel to a minimum, unless their condition is life threatening and needs immediate attention.
Then there are those who are undergoing elective procedures such as Dental Implants or Hair Transplants. Most of these patients will be travelling from the UK and Western Europe to Hungary for these procedures. All patients are screened for preexisting conditions as well as making sure they are healthy for the procedures.
Many clinics, along with the patients are reevaluating whether they should continue with the surgery, and rightly so. Doctors and staff want to keep themselves safe from any patients who might be carrying the virus, and vice versa for the patients keeping themselves safe from any infected staff.
The Airline industry was the first to take measures with cancellations and restriction of flights and passengers. This was obviously done in conjunction with their home countries, although much of it had to do with passenger loads. The EU airlines had issues because of a somewhat antiquated laws of “use it or lose it” concerning slots at the airports. In short, if airlines suspend certain flights for a period of time, they could lose those highly coveted slots.
Because of the law, Airlines were forced to continue flights to certain destinations even if the aircraft were empty. This does nothing to the bottom line of Airlines which are already suffering from a lack of demand. This restriction was finally lifted which gave airlines some flexibility.
In the case of Italy which has been extremely hit hard by the virus, airlines have cancelled many flights into the country all together. Even if you weren’t reluctant to fly, there was no way of getting to your destination. Many Medical Tourists looked to Italy as what could happen to their destination countries if the virus continued to spread which made them even more reluctant to travel.
As the Coronavirus has spread desperate measures from within countries large and small have become the biggest hurdle for Medical Tourism travel. With the decision to stop Europeans flying into the US, the “quarantine” has no doubt stepped up a level. This has had the knock-on effect of hampering global travel as well as travel throughout Europe and other regions.
Many individuals who are still allowed to travel have concluded that the future is still in flux and have decided that they would rather not chance being stuck in an airport or another country. With the plethora of flight cancellations and airlines suffering financially, individuals are hesitant to risk illness or chaos for elective surgery. The cautious patients are cancelling or rescheduling their procedure until the situation improves greatly.
Summary – How hair transplant travels and dental holidays will change?
Medical Tourism is a very lucrative business while continuing to grow in specific countries and regions such as Hungary. The Coronavirus will have a huge impact on their businesses and could possibly affect them long-term with bankruptcy. With patients few and far between, many clinics will have to make difficult decisions if they want to continue practicing. If this situation continues there will be some closures of clinics and some unhappy patients.