100 years ago, they said when a black man becomes the President of the United States, pigs will fly... 100th day of Obama's Presidency, swine (flu) flew!
Another 100 days... swine flu flew to Indian shores and in no time grabbed attention from all quarters and we are no exception to this. This time people were not in awe of this new arrival from the US of A, but in a state of shock... what if this flew over my nest?
As I was recently planning a trip to London with my daughter Tanya, it suddenly struck me what if swine flu strikes my daughter or me? And then began a series of frantic calls to friends, so that this new monster in our lives doesn't throw spanner in our plans to travel overseas.
My 12-year quipped, "Swine flu happens to swine, why are you worried?" True, then what it is with this swine flu, which has taken away the joy of overseas travel.
Now research began followed by some new revelations: like people, pigs can get influenza (flu) but swine flu viruses aren't the same as human flu viruses. Swine flu doesn't often infect people, and the rare human cases that have occurred in the past have mainly affected people who had direct contact with pigs.
But the current 'swine flu' outbreak is different. It's caused by a new swine flu virus that has changed in ways that allows it to spread from person to person and it's happening among people who haven't had any contact with pigs. That makes it a human flu virus.
In an effort to avoid confusion, it has been termed the virus 'novel influenza A (H1N1) virus' to distinguish it both from flu viruses that infect mainly pigs and from the seasonal influenza A H1N1 viruses that have been in circulation for many years.
"But how do you know that you have been inflicted with swine flu?" asked my curious daughter. "Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Many people with swine flu have had diarrhoea and vomiting. Nearly everyone with flu has at least two of these symptoms," I shared my recently acquired knowledge on swine flu with her.
So how do I make my travel fool (flu) proof? "Insure yourself", suggested my friend. Travel insurance can help but when it comes to travel insurance, protection levels do vary. As I was unsure about exactly what this will and will not cover, I contacted few insureres. A talk with ICICI Lombard revealed that it covers for all medical emergencies and swine flu is not listed in exclusions and same holds good for travel insurance from TATA-AIG.
Go by this, there was no need to panic as swine flu is also treated as any other illness as far as travel insurance is concerned. If you find yourself in the wrong side and get swine flu while on holiday some policies can cover the cost of medical treatment abroad.
Even if you are diagnosed with swine flu before you go on holiday and you need to cancel your trip your travel insurance will cover the cost.
Most important your immediate family members who are due to travel with you (including your spouse parents and children) also can be covered.
Now most of the global airlines are stopping swine flu suspects from flying. So if an airline does not have a 'failure of service' provision, travel insurance policies should cover costs involved with cancelled or rearranged flights and accommodation.
But one thing to remember for someone who has opted to travel to a particular country against advice from the Government or WHO ( The World Health Organisation) could see his or her insurance policy invalidated.
Buying travel insurance is a really sensible decision for those heading overseas now. It does not just cover illness and cancellations, but also lost baggage, stolen property and a range of other possibilities.
A standard travel insurance policy should cover additional accommodation and rearranged travel if you become ill while on holiday and end up being quarantined or refused flights.
However, it's important to ask for written confirmation that you were quarantined if you want to make a claim.
Most policies will cover medical treatment while overseas, so if you do get ill, the policy should meet any extra costs.
The author works for Apna Paisa