COVID-19 measures to impact outbound medical travel from UAE

The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has announced the temporary suspension of its international patient care service, which is responsible for referring patients for treatment abroad. At present, there is no ban on inbound medical tourism.

The decision comes in line with DoH’s continuous efforts to prioritise patients’ health and safety while ensuring that all precautionary measures are being taken in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to limit the risk of contagion.

DoH reaffirmed its cooperation with all the concerned authorities including the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company SEHA, to ensure that International Patient Care Division (IPC) patients have access to comprehensive, continuous and timely healthcare services, taking into consideration their health condition until it is safe for patients to be sent abroad for treatment.

Hind Al Zaabi at DoH said, “As soon as the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency, we deemed it crucial to take immediate action and implement rigorous measures to control the spread of the virus. Taking protective measures are essential to ensure the health and safety of our society.”

International Patient Care Division (IPC) Health Authority – Abu Dhabi is the division entitled to refer patients for treatment abroad or to private hospitals and medical centres within the country. The IPC deals with:

  • Medical tourism customers.
  • Random travellers who become ill or injured while travelling.
  • Expatriates and foreign nationals working in the region.
  • Pensioners and other long-stay visitors who may spend cold winter months in a warm climate second home.

At present, there is no ban on inbound medical tourism.

Six confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases have been linked to a cycling event in Abu Dhabi with two Russians, two Italians, one German and a Colombian infected. The UAE Tour was abandoned with cyclists, team staff and some media put under lockdown at hotels in Abu Dhabi where they underwent screening, with most cleared to leave.