As we enter the Chinese Year of the Tiger, International SOS urges organisations and their employees to continue to be aware of the potential health risks from the pandemic and measures to reduce that risk. The advice is to monitor the changing landscape, carefully consider individual circumstances and adhere to all local requirements and restrictions to protect employees and the wider community. Organisations are also advised to pay particular attention to the psychological health of their employees, especially those who are unable to travel to be with family and friends at this important time of the year.
The official Chinese Lunar New Year Day falls on February 1 this year. International SOS advises travellers and international assignees to be aware of complex entry requirements. It is also recommended that they understand the potential risks to health associated with COVID-19, as well as the strict protocols in place for people who test positive or are deemed to be contacts of people who are infected with the virus.
Dr Irene Lai, Global Medical Director, Medical Information & Analysis at International SOS, comments, “As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third-year, a potential rise in transmission associated with gatherings during the Chinese New Year holiday has not diminished. In addition to the risk to health from COVID-19 itself, there also could potentially be sudden restrictions on movements in the event of an outbreak, which would in turn, would put strain on healthcare systems and other essential services. If undertaking essential travel, it is important to monitor the situation, pay attention to possible additional health and security risks and to have a plan of action in place to manage logistical disruptions.”
Dr Lai adds, “The impact of restrictions related to COVID-19 on mental health is significant. Many employees have been stationed away from their families for longer than expected and entering the third year of the pandemic they are still facing difficulties in travelling home. Organisations should strengthen their Duty of Care and support their employees with additional mental health resources, including through telemedicine consultation services.”
Top five tips for celebrating the Chinese New Year holiday:
- Carefully consider the need to travel and a potential “worst case scenario” if you are unable to complete your planned trip.
- Monitor the travel restrictions and testing and quarantine requirements, for your point of departure, transit locations, final destination and your return. These can change at any time.
- Make sure you have downloaded any local COVID-19 apps required to validate your status at your destination. The documentation you used to enter a country may not be the same as the proof required to enter public venues. Ensure that your COVID-19 proof of status (test, vaccination, recovery) is in a format that is accepted within the local apps.
- To reduce the risk of infection – ensure you have completed your vaccination course, including a booster if recommended. In public areas, keep two meters away from others, wear a mask and avoid crowded areas. Minimise face-to-face contact with others. Pay attention to hygiene – use hand sanitiser and avoid touching your face.
- Keep yourself in the best possible health – maintain a healthy diet, keep up regular physical activity and get adequate rest.
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