17 March 2020, London.
International SOS, the world’s leading medical and security services company, is currently advising businesses to defer all non-essential international travel due to the impacts of COVID-19. This is the first time in its 35-year history that International SOS has recommended this action.
Mick Sharp, Chief Operating Officer, Security Services at International SOS comments,
“This unprecedented global advice to defer non-essential travel follows the WHO’s declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic and comes amidst a rapidly evolving situation where a rapidly expanding number of countries have imposed public health measures to reduce the spread of the virus, including border closures and restrictions on international travel. Additional measures which have also impacted the mobility of people within countries include restrictions on internal movement, bans on mass gatherings, closures of some non-essential facilities and community lockdowns.
The sum of these measures means that travelers and mobile workers are more likely to be disrupted in their travel, and face restrictions on their ability to work productively. The impact on the global economy and the potential for second-order security issues in the short, medium and longer terms also needs to be considered,
Based on this advice, organisations should consider if a trip is absolutely essential, taking into account a range of disruptions and potential threats to their workforce and business continuity if this travel is undertaken.”
We are constantly evaluating the evolving situation and will change advice when it is appropriate. We have clear de-escalation as well as escalation triggers which are continually monitored and assessed for all environments. In general, however, we do not anticipate substantive change in our advice in the near term given the dynamic nature of the medical threat and extent and fluidity of Government restrictions.”
Dr Neil Nerwich, Group Medical Director, Assistance at International SOS added,
“In addition to the impact of COVID-19 on the global logistical environment, the progression in our advice to defer non-essential travel has been influenced by the challenge COVID-19 poses to healthcare systems in all impacted locations as well as the risk of infection of COVID-19, especially in vulnerable populations.
It is therefore the responsibility of all to do as much as possible to limit the spread of the virus and for organisations to take a well-considered view regarding the implementation of appropriate travel measures to protect their employees.”