COVID-19 "Free To Fly" procedures and tests for Americans

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Just sharing the facts and experiences I've learned having spent 30 hours calling airlines, the nations top (and bottom) health systems, clinics, and State and County Health Departments regarding COVID-19 testing so you can go on safari.

What you need:

-You are required to have a COVID-19 PCR test with a negative result. The PCR is the "gold standard" according to the CDC and most nations are requiring this specific test. There are many other test critierion available but they are insufficient for travel. Be advised, the "gold standard" test has a 30% false report rate so the test you obtain may indicate you have Covid or not, in either case incorrectly, up to 30% of the time. "MILFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The current CDC nucleic acid test kits for SARS-CoV-2 generate 30% false-positive and 20% false-negative results in the best state public health laboratory, Dr. Sin Hang Lee reported in a peer-reviewed article published in the International Journal of Geriatrics and Rehabilitation, an online journal based in Japan"

Who you need it for and when:

-Each country you visit will have inbound and outbound will have a timeline. For connections within the UAE, you must have a PCR that was TAKEN within 96 hours of departure. For Zimbabwe, you must have a PCR that was TAKEN 48 hours or less prior to arrival in Zimbabwe. For departure from Zimbabwe you must have a PCR TAKEN within 72 hours prior to departure. Be aware, it looks like the African nations are easing their written rules that say "in the past 48 hours" and instead accepting "48 hours from departure" because obviously, the flights can be 29-38 hours to get from USA to your African destination country making a test, lab analysis, result, and boarding of a plane impossible in the timeline allotted. On the ground in Africa professional hunters are reporting clients are getting there and getting out using the weaker than written interpretations, but it's still 48 hours from departure which leaves the slimmest of windows for an American to get a test.

Why is the word TAKEN in bold?:

The rules all define the requirements as TAKEN. As in, the test was taken <48 hours from departure for example. This is a key point.

Why this is impossible in America:

-In most states, the current COVID-19 rapid testing is performed by local hospitals, clinics, and drive-through test centers and then lab tested by Quest Diagnostics or Labcorp. The current time from test to the mailing is uncertain, but the laboratories are turning around their test results from WHEN THEY RECEIVE THE SPECIMEN in 48-72 hours. Thus, the results you receive are in effect, utterly worthless as they are stale by the time they are received. Further, the US healthsystem is overtaxed and most clinics and hospitals are denying access to testing without the completion of a questionnaire. That questionnaire will reject a healthy patient from being tested and they do not have a means to provide rapid-PCR for flying purposes. Many websites related to travel reflect these problems including ThePointsGuy, CNN, and other sources.

Aren't the airlines doing something about this?:

-Yes and no, but most entirely NO. Yes, some airlines like American, United, and JetBlue are providing subsidized or free testing for travel on their airlines. However, they are either not using PCR testing as is required for international travel to safari destinations, OR they are requiring test results in the past 5 days thus their window of acceptability is so long that it makes logistics feasible for providing this service. The test they provided for cheap or free isn't useful because its too old to be admitted in an African nation by the time you arrive.

So how does it get done?

-There are boutique clinics, concierge telemedicine companies, and online firms that can come *close* to achieving the goal necessary of a PCR test administered less than 48 hours from departure. These firms run expensive though, $400 for thecovidconsultants.com as an example of one of the fastest choices available including express overnight processing. Their boutique lab gets all the FedEx Express packages by 10:30AM that were shipped the day prior and issues a report between 6pm and 9pm that day. Even with this, the math of doing a nasal swab or spit PCR test, getting it to a Fedex depot by cutoff, having it tested the next day, getting results, printing the results on paper (digital isn't allowed in most jurisdictions) and getting to the airport for your flight is, well, impossible.

So how does it really, really get done?

-A convenient deception. These luxury rapid COVID PCR test firms for travelers specifically omit sample date. The report issued does not reflect when the specimen was collected, only when the report was generated and the date. So it is left to assume that if the lab gets it on Monday at 10:30AM and issues the results at 6:00PM Monday that you were tested on Monday and you have until Wednesday at 6PM to jump on that flight before your 48 hour from departure timeline runs out. This is regardless to the fact that you could have had a healthy friend provide the sample for you, or you could have provided a sample 10 days earlier and chose to mail it in timed so that the results issue <48 hours from departure. Basically, its a tax on travel to play a game that is indeed a farcical game with an impossible to meet Service Level and Turnaround Time objective.

So how do I get home after Safari?

-Reports on the ground suggest that in Africa PCR tests are cheap, fast, and readily available. One PH I spoke with states all of his crew get mandatory PCRs weekly as part of their employment process at present. So you need to allow time on the tail of your in-country safari to obtain a test and a result (72 hours or less from departure) to board your flight home.

What's this I hear about charges at African airports, mandatory tests, and 14-day quarantines in locked facilities?

-The most recent clarifications, at least in Zimbabwe, are that you must pay $60 at the airport upon landing IF YOU ARE SICK. If you fail a COVID test administered by them, you are locked up for 14 days in a State mandated facility. If you have a valid PCR when you arrive and you are not displaying symptoms, you hop in your PH's cruiser and you're free to go.


In conclusion:

-Know your maximum timelines for testing. Use a private Free-to-fly PCR testing firm at a cost of $400. Time your sample submission to ensure the results are issued not too soon and not too late. Be aware that all those testing facilities you hear about on the news are either not using the required PCR, will not test you if you're not sick, and in any case will not deliver the evidence you need in the time required to go on a safari.
 

Wade J VanGinkel

AH enthusiast
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
494
Reaction score
798
Location
Colorado
Media
51
Great information, and thank you for the time it took you to put this together.
Our trip isn't until late April if it happens so hopefully things lighten up more.
 

sierraone

Silver supporter
AH legend
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Messages
4,069
Reaction score
4,082
Media
93
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club Int.
Hunted
USA, RSA, Northwest and Limpopo Provinces
Good luck to any and all of you that may go on an international hunt within the next year. Rookhawk's post is precisely why I have made the decision I will not fly internationally again until this mess is over. My belief is that even if you do everything as directed, by the time you arrive in your destination country, something has changed or individually we have forgotten to cross a T. Again, good luck to all.
 

cpr0312

AH ambassador
Joined
Jul 21, 2011
Messages
10,810
Reaction score
16,750
Location
North Carolina
Media
426
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
8
USA/Canada
1
Australia/NZ
1
Member of
NRA Life Member
Hunted
US (All over), New Zealand, South Africa(Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Northwest), Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania
Another AH member in Texas was able to get results back in under 24 hours. A family member of mine was able to get results back in 24 hours in NC. Definitely ask your doctor about where the clinics/test sites are that have been getting quick turnarounds for PCR's
 

Hank2211

Gold supporter
AH legend
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
3,053
Reaction score
7,365
Media
187
Articles
4
Hunting reports
Africa
11
Member of
SCI, DU, Pheasants Forever
Hunted
Canada, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa (Eastern Cape; Northern Cape; North West Province, Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo), Namibia, Cameroon, Benin, Ethiopia, Argentina
This is very helpful, and well-illustrates the issues surrounding travel these days. One additional factor which must be considered is transiting airports if that's part of your itinerary. I was looking at flying from Canada to Lusaka, which would have required transmitting Addis Ababa. The rules for transmitting were at best unclear - some suggested there were no tests while others said you might be tested on arrival and if you had a temperature, you would be forced to quarantine. Having been to Adddis, I have zero desire to quarantine there.

The only thing I would have added, is that you'd best pay attention, because the rules can change without notice at any time!

That level of uncertainty makes the decision to travel a difficult one.
 

Hank2211

Gold supporter
AH legend
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
3,053
Reaction score
7,365
Media
187
Articles
4
Hunting reports
Africa
11
Member of
SCI, DU, Pheasants Forever
Hunted
Canada, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa (Eastern Cape; Northern Cape; North West Province, Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo), Namibia, Cameroon, Benin, Ethiopia, Argentina
Another AH member in Texas was able to get results back in under 24 hours. A family member of mine was able to get results back in 24 hours in NC
It happens, but you can't really count on it - and that's a problem.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Another AH member in Texas was able to get results back in under 24 hours. A family member of mine was able to get results back in 24 hours in NC. Definitely ask your doctor about where the clinics/test sites are that have been getting quick turnarounds for PCR's

The Doctor and the Clinic are sort of irrelevant in the chain of events. Logistics isn't their strong suit anyway. The problem is the mega-lab companies and their turn-around SLA. That is compounded by how long the medical assistant takes to pack up your specimen and whisk it away the slow-boat-to-china for testing because they aren't popping the $75 for the overnight-early-AM guarantee FedEx treatment and even if they do, Labcorp and Quest aren't giving you priority over the 10,000 other tests in the same pile.

In short, quicker and slower anecdotes on turn around times with the testing authorities are just that, anecdotes. If you want to risk a $5000 non-refundable flight and perhaps a $10,000-$50,000 hunt on a state agency or local clinic, that is always a personal decision. But they provide no guarantees and for $400 you get a guarantee with thecovidconsultants.com and others (several in Beverly Hills and London that require walk-ins with even faster service for $1000+).

Some additional reference articles on these topics if you'd like to dig deeper with some quotes from recent articles:

"Namely, there’s the reality that, while things seem to be improving on the whole, it’s still almost impossible to quickly get a coronavirus test (and the results) within 72 hours in some parts of the country — especially if you’re getting the test for reasons other than being symptomatic. Even if you can find somewhere to give you the test when you want it, that doesn’t mean the lab that processes the test will be able to get you the results when you need them."

"
Here’s the bad news. The odds that you can get a PCR coronavirus test and results timed perfectly within 72 hours of travel ranges from great to almost impossible, depending on where you are and whether that area is experiencing a surge of cases and testing demand.

There’s also the issue that not everywhere will test you if you aren’t symptomatic. For example, CVS has been expanding drive-thru testing in many areas, but not all will test someone who reports no symptoms or high-risk exposure.

Even if you can get a test when you want it, the wait time for results has been creeping upwards, even in places where it was a one- or two-day wait just a few weeks ago. Now, three to five days is common if you’re lucky, and it can drag on longer than two weeks in areas experiencing a surge in cases and demand.

Personally, I live in Texas outside Houston. In my quest in June and July to find somewhere — anywhere — to provide a PCR coronavirus test with results available within 72 hours, I found virtually no real options.

Facilities were out of tests, there were warnings of lines that form early and drag on for hours with results that can take a couple of weeks and other facilities only testing symptomatic patients. Clinics are running out of tests and rationing what they have on hand. Then, once you get a test, you can forget about receiving results within 72 hours. You’ll be lucky if you have them within a week. One of the tests I took this summer simply got lost and results never came."

But there are reports of quick-turnaround testing still being a real challenge from people in some locations such as Tampa, Chicago and Upstate New York. Even in New York City, your results can vary wildly. Some people have had to wait four or five days for test results — while others received results within 24 hours. The lab that processes the test makes a world of difference in the time from test to results.

In areas with an abundance of rapid tests, you can easily drive up, take a test and have the results delivered in an hour or so. Those reports I received were from parts of California (such as San Francisco and Napa) Connecticut and, frankly, throughout much of the Northeast.




 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
In another real-world anecdote, a friend of the family went to get drive-through tested in Miami, Florida two weeks ago. She checked in and then waited hours, and hours, and hours. Ultimately, she left the test site without having provided a specimen. Just walked off unserved.

5 days later she received a note stating "your test results came back positive for COVID-19".
 

chashardy

AH fanatic
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
1,004
Media
13
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Many thanks to rookhawk for doing the legwork on this report. I just hope things clear up better by next summer.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Many thanks to rookhawk for doing the legwork on this report. I just hope things clear up better by next summer.

Hi @chashardy I see it as an opportunity right now. Barriers to commerce and hoops to jump through create diminished market demand for safaris. In essence, Africa continues to have a "final clearance sale" on wild hunts with virtually no interest.

Consider this: Most African nations with hunted wildlife (everyone but RSA) get their permit allocation for CITES exportable animals each January. In turn, they typically align their own internal sovereign quota systems on the same calendar.

So quotas are supposed to come out January 1st for an African nation's wildlife but of course, delays always happen so it really gets issued end of January to mid-February. But those are not desirable hunting months as that is the rainy season, so all of the 2020 quota was virtually unused and unsold awaiting the "early hunts in May-June" and the "Peak season hunts in July-August". The nations were shut down due to Covid and now they are trickling in with the tiniest of dribbles of customers right now. When the rains come (any day now, or by mid-November) the hunting for the year is too wet, largely unsafe, and over. That means that the African nations didn't sell their quota this year. Further, most Game Departments are parastatal and do not receive government funding. Rather, they all get their operating cash from quota sales and other tourist fees. So Africa is not just "broke like usual" but is now "100% broke with zero revenue for 2020 and no means to gain revenue in 2020".

For those reasons, its to everyone's advantage to get their butt on an airplane as fast as possible if you can, because the costs are about half of what they would be in 2021 or thereafter. Long term planning for safaris is foolhardy because the animals you want and the country you wish to visit may not even be there by the time your trip arrives. Africa still exists, its on the map, and with reasonable certainty, it will be there the remainder of October.

So hop a plane, jump through hoops, enjoy your discounts!
 

spike.t

Sponsor
Since 2013
AH ambassador
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
11,152
Reaction score
17,565
Website
www.takerireservezambia.com
Media
348
Articles
12
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Member of
sci int, basc,wpaz
Hunted
zambia, tanzania, zimbabwe,Mozambique ,hungary, france, england
This is very helpful, and well-illustrates the issues surrounding travel these days. One additional factor which must be considered is transiting airports if that's part of your itinerary. I was looking at flying from Canada to Lusaka, which would have required transmitting Addis Ababa. The rules for transmitting were at best unclear - some suggested there were no tests while others said you might be tested on arrival and if you had a temperature, you would be forced to quarantine. Having been to Adddis, I have zero desire to quarantine there.

The only thing I would have added, is that you'd best pay attention, because the rules can change without notice at any time!

That level of uncertainty makes the decision to travel a difficult one.

Nothing required for transiting Addis airport....I know one outfitter here is on his 7th client since zambia reopened....with clients coming from usa and Europe....
 

GA Hunter

AH fanatic
Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Messages
627
Reaction score
900
Location
USA , GA
Media
46
Hunting reports
Africa
5
USA/Canada
1
Certain CVS Pharmacy locations perform rapid PCR tests and the results are available as quickly as 30 minutes.

 

gizmo

Sponsor
Since 2015
AH ambassador
Reviews
2
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
7,135
Reaction score
11,838
Location
Texas
Website
www.rockinggranch.com
Media
1,745
Articles
6
Hunting reports
Africa
6
USA/Canada
8
Europe
1
Member of
NRA, DSC, SCI, Exotic Wildlife Association, Texas Taxidermy Association Life Member, National Taxidermy Association, TTHA,DUCKS UNLIMITED
Hunted
Namibia-Khomas Highlands, Romania, South Africa- Kalahari , Eastern Cape, USA, Fished Brazil, Mexico, USA
Thanks for the info. This whole thing is such a pain in the a$$. I’m hoping this crap goes away After the votes are tallied but idk. Seems to be a new money maker and control for the gov’ts globally.
One of my questions has been is someone has gotten Covid at some point and tests way later after the person has gotten over it, will it still test positive?
Additionally there is whatever it is, like a 30% chance you could get a Faldo positive causing one to either miss the trip or get stuck in Zim for 2 more weeks.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Certain CVS Pharmacy locations perform rapid PCR tests and the results are available as quickly as 30 minutes.


ymmv. Not in my state, not if you’re not symptomatic, and you cannot cross state lines for a test. (Test in state for which you have ID)
 

TSALA HUNTING SAFARIS

Sponsor
Since 2016
AH enthusiast
Reviews
2
Joined
Feb 9, 2010
Messages
499
Reaction score
685
Website
www.tsalasafari.co.za
Media
334
Articles
4
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
Wildlife ranching SA.Phasa

KMG Hunting Safaris

Sponsor
Since 2013
AH ambassador
Reviews
21
Joined
Jul 9, 2010
Messages
5,898
Reaction score
8,420
Location
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Website
www.huntsafaris.co.za
Media
1,204
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
5
Australia/NZ
1
Member of
DSC Life Member ; Eastern Cape Game Management Association ; PE Pistol and Rifle Club
Hunted
South Africa, Namibia, New Zealand, USA, Canada

Hogpatrol

Silver supporter
AH ambassador
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
6,752
Reaction score
16,762
Location
Delaware, USA
Media
89
Articles
4
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
Atglen Sportsmen's Club, NRA ,SCCFSA,
Hunted
RSA, DE, NJ, PA, KS, TX, ME
My 2¢, Looks like there is a lot of luck involved and at present, too many IFs for most of us old farts.
 

Hogpatrol

Silver supporter
AH ambassador
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
6,752
Reaction score
16,762
Location
Delaware, USA
Media
89
Articles
4
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
Atglen Sportsmen's Club, NRA ,SCCFSA,
Hunted
RSA, DE, NJ, PA, KS, TX, ME
Sitting here wondering if receiving the vaccine, when available, will be a get out jail free card for travel.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,911
Reaction score
6,362
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
My 2¢, Looks like there is a lot of luck involved and at present, too many IFs for most of us old farts.


Risk is always mitigated with money.

The more money you throw at a problem, the less risk you must accept. The less money (or time, because time=money) you provide, the greater the risk.

This truth is no more certain than in the area of safari hunting. We buy down our risk by hiring travel agents, paying for gun permit advisors, hiring meet and greets, buying travel insurance, extraction insurance, etc. Covid rapid testing is just another example of a way to pay for less risk.
 

Hammergun

AH senior member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Messages
71
Reaction score
113
Thank you for all the good info. These details are why my wife and I delayed our 2021 safari until 2022. I hope it will be easier to travel by then.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
39,944
Messages
778,656
Members
72,830
Latest member
trueketosp
 

 

 

Latest posts

Latest profile posts

gprippers wrote on Tucketed's profile.
Hello, saw that you want the Jeffries brass. So you an either send a USPS money order or paypal i guess, which ever works for you is fine with me at this point. If you want to us Paypal use [redacted] friends and family and dont mention gun stuff at all or they will go bananas! LOL!

Let me know what you want to do.
Thanks,
Rob
Cowboy wrote on MBIZI SAFARIS's profile.
Good afternoon, please send me a list of pricing for 2022.
NTH wrote on JimT's profile.
Hey Jim, I read that you’re from Dequincey and just returned from Africa. I’m from Lake Charles and went there in April. What outfitter did you use and would you share your experience and pics? I won our trip to Kuche through DU.
gprippers wrote on SAFARIKIDD's profile.
Hello! Nice rifle! I have IDENTICAL rifle in 375 H&H so i was wondering what gunsmith did the work on it? Appreciate it and if you decide there is anything you are willing to take in partial trade, let me know. I have quite a few pistols, long guns and sxs & o/u shotguns as well.

Let me know if you are looking for anything in particular.

Thanks,
Rob
Bearhunter46 wrote on Philip Glass's profile.
Philip, do you still have the 416 for sale?
 
Top