Evacuation Capability Statement

International Medical Evacuation - Patients With COVID-19

  • International SOS is highly experienced in evacuating patients with infectious disease, having safely transported numerous infectious patients around the world.
  • International SOS has provided aeromedical transportation for confirmed COVID-19 infected patients by air ambulance.
  • As such, International SOS has the medical and technical capability to undertake international evacuation of patients with COVID-19 infection
  • Aeromedical movement for patients with either a history of travel to a COVID-19 affected location, and/or overlapping symptoms may require a significant additional timeframe to undertake. Some patients may experience significant delays in evacuation and be reliant on local healthcare resources for prolonged periods.
  • Additional testing may be required, and if COVID-19 cannot be excluded, the patient may require the same levels of infection control and permissions as a confirmed case.
  • Therefore there may be a significant lead-time to confirm the feasibility of such evacuations as these variables are beyond the control of International SOS. These variables include, but are not necessarily limited to:
    • Availability of aircraft operators willing to consider the transport of a patient with known or suspected COVID-19.
    • Restrictions as to the choice of country destination for air ambulance flights in addition to the choice of medical facility for receiving care.
    • Implementation of restrictions by some countries on inbound international flights, including Air ambulance aircraft.
    • Acceptance of the patient by Health Authorities and other Governmental bodies in the designated receiving country, in addition to the authorization of Health Authorities in the originating country for discharge of the patient.
    • Granting of overflight and landing permission by countries that the aircraft carrying the patient needs to overfly or land in to refuel en-route to the destination. Strict public health regulations may be enforced, and countries retain the right of refusal for such medical transport flights.
    • Due to limitations on movement of exposed or confirmed patients, consideration of direct repatriation flights to the country of origin of the patient where operationally and medically feasible may be required.
    • In some circumstances including patients presenting with fever or other symptoms similar to COVID-19 infection, international evacuation may not be achievable due to local health authority regulations.

International SOS is in close contact with local Health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), and relevant Civil Aviation Authorities with respect to ongoing developments.

International Medical Evacuation – Patients with other conditions

  • International SOS is highly experienced in evacuating patients with various medical conditions, and undertakes such movements on a daily basis.
  • International SOS has the medical and technical capability to undertake international evacuation of patients, including from areas where COVID-19 infection has been seen (subject to airport operating status). However, movement of persons who have a history of travel in mainland China, or other affected areas may restrict the potential destinations for evacuation, and/or may impose additional requirements from the health authorities of the country to which the patient is being evacuated.
  • Granting of overflight and landing permission by countries that the aircraft carrying the patient needs to overfly or land in to refuel en-route to the destination. Strict public health regulations may be enforced, and countries retain the right of refusal for such medical transport flights.
  • Due to limitations on movement of exposed or confirmed patients, consideration of direct repatriation flights to the country of origin of the patient where operationally and medically feasible may be required.
  • A number of countries are currently implementing restrictions on international flights. Exemptions for aeromedical evacuation flights are not always provided, although it may be possible to obtain clearances with diplomatic support of the nationalities involved. It is likely however that this process will result in significantly increased activation times, and the outcome cannot be guaranteed. As such International SOS strongly recommends early engagement should there be a potential requirement for medical evacuation.

International SOS is in close contact with local Health authorities, relevant Civil Aviation Authorities, and our network of air ambulance operators with respect to ongoing developments.

Passenger Charter Evacuation

  • International SOS is experienced in arranging passenger charter flights globally, including from China, and has undertaken such charters since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • International SOS has the technical and logistical capacity to arrange the movement of large numbers of passengers internationally on charter flights; however our experience in such circumstances is that the feasibility of doing so is dependent on the authorization of Governmental, Health and Aviation Authorities.
  • Therefore there may be a significant lead-time to confirm the feasibility of such evacuations as these variables are beyond the control of International SOS.
  • Given the rapidly evolving nature of restrictions regarding entry of non-nationals globally, there may be considerable limitation in potentially viable destinations for evacuation, and early engagement is therefore strongly recommended.
  • A number of countries are currently implementing restrictions on international flights. Exemptions for passenger charter flights are not always provided, although it may be possible to obtain clearances with diplomatic support of the nationalities involved. It is likely however that this process will result in significantly increased activation times, and the outcome cannot be guaranteed. As such International SOS strongly recommends early engagement should there be a potential requirement for evacuation, and for our clients to proactively engage with their local diplomatic channels additionally.

International SOS is in close contact with relevant aviation operators and civil aviation authorities with respect to ongoing developments.

Repatriation of Mortal Remains for Deceased COVID-19 Patients

  • International SOS is experienced in managing patients who have passed away due to an infectious disease and has significant insight in the requirements and logistic challenges in conducting repatriation of mortal remains and cremations.
  • The current COVID-19 outbreak has posed additional challenges to the repatriation of mortal remains and cremation. Approvals for local cremation or burial, as well as repatriation of mortal remains will be required from local and central health authorities, as well as the designated receiving location, in addition to the willingness of commercial or charter air operators to carry these remains.
  • There may be a significant lead-time to arrange repatriation of mortal remains, or cremation of COVID-19 patients due to the variables, and complexity of the issues involved. The changing nature of the epidemiology of COVID-19 in addition to the aforementioned variables are beyond the control of International SOS.

International SOS is in close contact with local and central authorities, our preferred service providers and international health organisations with respect of monitoring the developing situation.