Dr Simon Worrell, Global Medical Director at Collinson, covered the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on travel. When talking about the current global situation, he highlighted how countries with successful testing and vaccination programmes are seeing a significant decline in the number of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, and a large decrease in mortality rates. “The link between hospitalisation and cases has been broken,” he said. However, there are still countries suffering from high mortality rates and hospitalisation due to lack of vaccination, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed, he added.
Dr Worrell believes that travel is moving in the right direction with cheaper and faster testing methods now available, quarantine time upon arrival reduced, an increased number of countries opening their borders and more flights starting. He highlighted that Collinson’s main aim has always been to facilitate trade, tourism and safe travel and believes that with recent improvements international travel will soon increase. He raised the question of when we should stop testing travellers for Covid pre and post holiday.
He argued that with successful vaccine and booster programmes where Covid-19 only causes flu-like symptoms, community testing becomes unnecessary. Referring back to Dr Vanya Gant’s presentation of Monday, he agreed that Covid-19 will become a ‘fourth flu virus’ and hopes that by April 2022 we will be able to stop testing altogether and reach a ‘new normality’. He concluded with a positive glance to the future: “I look forward to coming here again without masks and when we can be fully human.”
Lloyd Figgins, CEO of TRIP Group, explained that to rebuild confidence in travel, we must look to the past before we can look to the future. He discussed how media channels and social platforms have contributed to disinformation and ‘truth decay’ during the pandemic. Collecting information from unreliable sources has led to distortion of the truth and the creation of false narratives that cause the public to fear travel.
To overcome this and encourage travel, Figgins highlighted the importance of collaboration within the industry, and urged competitors to work together to install confidence in travellers once again.
He discussed the role of communication, education and going beyond the duty of care to ensure travellers feel completely supported and safe. “Let’s build more than better,” he summarised, “let’s build a process by which people can travel safely and securely.
Dr Sneh Khemka, CEO of Simplyhealth, discussed the new advances in digital health that would allow 90 per cent of patient consultations to be done virtually. He spoke about how “Becoming a digital healthcare company is all about changing your customer interface to a purely digital mobile first environment. Your infrastructure should turn to a cloud SAaS interoperable environment and your engagements to digital therapeutics and digital disease management.”
Khemka explained how monitoring long-term patients virtually can be very successful, for example those suffering from diabetes. When asked about cases where ambiguity could be possible without a physical consultation, he assured that if doctors are supplied with the right tools and information, they will be able to diagnosis and treat appropriately.