Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, fertility treatments have been up in the air. Certainly in the UK, for the first couple of months of the crisis, the HFEA restricted all IVF which was then lifted in late May 2020
The UK’s NHS has been under extreme stress throughout and as a result, people waiting for NHS-funded treatments have been subject to incredibly long waitlists.
The frustration is mounting
Rather than wait any longer for NHS treatment, many struggling to conceive have opted to seek treatment privately both in the UK and overseas, in countries such as Spain, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.
Medical travel has been allowed throughout the entire pandemic. Even when non-essential travel was banned, the UK government has always allowed for travel for IVF and other fertility treatments and investigations. Other countries’ governments have also made this exception, allowing you to enter their country if you have a valid letter from the local doctor.
That said, medical travel has been laced with hassles and red tape due to the pandemic. In addition to quarantines and mandatory Covid tests in the destination country, you needed to quarantine for 14 days (or test to release on day 8) upon returning to the UK. However, as of July 19, this requirement is ending.
UK’s ‘Freedom Day’ changes the rules for medical travel
Much has been said about the UK’s upcoming “Freedom Day,” when the vast majority of Covid restrictions are coming to an end. While many businesses and services (such as the railways and airports) will still enforce masks and social distancing, the UK’s government mandate is over. Despite rising Delta variant cases, limits on social contact, nightclubs, and worshipping at a religious service are all ending on July 19.
Restrictions on travel, including medical travel, will also change. While ‘green list’ countries have not changed, requirements to quarantine upon return to the UK are ending for fully vaccinated people. Sajid Javid announced last week that all double-jabbed Brits will be exempt from quarantine when they land.
While you still need to take a PCR test before flying, the rules are changing for your return. So, whether you’re travelling for fertility treatments or a stress-busting holiday, the entire process is a lot easier.
As long as you’re returning from a green or amber list country and you have had both of your Covid jabs at least 14 days before departure, you’re exempt from quarantine rules. You simply need to take a PCR test on Day 2 after your arrival. No quarantine, no isolating, and no 8-day ‘test to release.’ This makes it a lot easier to schedule your overseas IVF treatments in relation to your work and family commitments.
How to stay safe when travelling for IVF
One of the most common questions we’ve received throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is, “are overseas IVF treatments safe right now?” As long as you choose a reputable clinic and take precautions while travelling, the answer is a resounding “yes!”
We spoke to A Mavroulis, the International Manager of Embryolab, a leading Greek clinic, who says “As Freedom Day puts us in a new phase of the pandemic, Embryolab’s team remains cautious but optimistic and we continue to be here for you. We are Covid Shield Certified, fully vaccinated and ready to assist all couples and women in continuing their IVF treatment or taking their first step in their fertility journey with us. With travel now opening up and becoming easier, we look forward to welcoming you.”
Here are some tips to help you stay safe when travelling abroad for IVF
- Follow official guidance – First, you need to follow the UK government’s travel advice, which is always subject to change.
- Take a PCR test within 3 days of departure – If you’re flying, government rules mandate that you take a PCR test within 3 days of departure and present proof before boarding.
- Wear a medical-grade mask while in airports and on the plane – Keep yourself (and others) safe by wearing a medical-grade mask in any enclosed spaces (most European countries mandate an FFP2 mask; check local guidance).
- Maintain social distancing when possible – It can be challenging to maintain a 2-metre distance in crowded airport queues, but do your best whenever possible.
- Quarantine in your destination country – Each different country has its own rules and restrictions about quarantining upon arrival, with exceptions to attend medical appointments. Ensure you read up on, understand, and follow these restrictions.
- Take a PCR test before your return flight – Yes, you need yet another PCR test before boarding your return flight to the UK! It must be taken within 72 hours of your flight, and the results must be written in English.
- Take a PCR test two days after you land in the UK – While you no longer need to quarantine upon your arrival back in the UK, if you are double jabbed, you just need to take a PCR test two days after you arrive back in the UK.
Medical travel has just got easier. By following these tips and choosing your clinics wisely, you can safely travel abroad for fertility treatments. Good luck on your journey.
Don’t forget too – we have a free IVF giveaway closing soon for clinics in the US, UK, Spain visit here to enter . . . please note that due to the Covid situation in South Africa and India we will be delaying closing these giveaways and Austrian giveaway until September.
To find out more on how to choose a clinic visit here, to find clinics at home or overseas visit here. We also highly recommend that you refer to regulatory bodies such as the HFEA (UK), SART (USA), ESHRE (Europe) when considering choosing a clinic too.
Can we also again thank every single care worker across the globe for their incredible work and service throughout this unprecedented pandemic
Not forgetting at any point too the incredible work that the fertility regulatory bodies, fertility consultants, nurses and clinic staff have been doing throughout.
For all those struggling with fertility during this period, we know only too well how struggling with fertility issues is such an emotionally and physically hard thing to cope with at any point . . . but with Covid entering into the mix over the last months, it has had such an incredibly hard impact on everyone TTC. Our hearts and love go out to you all. We are always here for you.
Sending everyone so much love from the IVFbabble team and let’s hope that this awful pandemic becomes a thing of the past in the not too distance future.
For anyone who would like to chat with others TTC, you can get in touch here