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Coronavirus and Your Upcoming tour to Uganda – What you Need to Know about Booking, Cancellations, Reschedules

Coronavirus and Your Upcoming tour to Uganda – Your Questions Answered

What you Need to Know about Booking, Cancellations,
Rescheduling your gorilla and Chimp permits,
Nationalities not allowed entry in Uganda because of Coronavirus

The current outbreak and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) together with the associated media and social media coverage is understandably becoming an increasing cause for concern for many travellers across the globe. Our priority is your safety and to ensure that you can enjoy your tour with Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris with confidence. Our staff are on hand to answer any questions or concerns that you may have, but the following information and frequently asked questions may also be of assistance.

Although no case of coronavirus has yet been reported in Uganda as of today (March 12th, 2020), as a preventive measure, the Uganda government Ministry of Health has issued a travel advisory for all tourist and other visitors entering Uganda as follows:

All visitors from Italy, South Korea, San Marino, Iran, France, China, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Malaysia, advising that they should consider postponing all non-essential travel to Uganda. Any of the above countries that successfully contains the outbreak will be removed from this list after 14 days with no new cases.

If people from these countries however, insist on coming to Uganda, the Minister said they will be subjected to 14 days of self-quarantine or institutional quarantine at their cost.

“Any traveler from these countries including Ugandan nationals will be subjected to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival to Uganda even if they don’t exhibit the signs and symptoms of Coronavirus,” said Minister Aceng.

“Individuals from the above countries who insist on visiting Uganda will be subjected to self-quarantine or institutional quarantine at their cost.”

Visitors from any other countries not listed above will undergo routine screening upon arrival in Uganda and be advised accordingly on measures to undertake while in Uganda to prevent infection and where to report if not feeling well.

What happens if I would like to cancel or change my tour to Uganda?

If your tour is still scheduled to depart as normal and you choose to cancel your tour for any reason then you will be liable for any cancellation fees that were agreed upon at the time of booking.

Can I change my booking to depart on a later date?

If you wish to consider postponing to a later departure for travel in 2020, please contact us to discuss your options. We are unable to guarantee that you will be able to change your booking, as it is dependent on future tour availability, but we will do everything we can to assist you.

If I have paid my gorillas/ chimps permits deposit and choose to cancel my booking, am I entitled to a refund?

Unfortunately not. If your tour/ safari is still due to travel and you choose to cancel, your deposit is non-refundable.

If I have paid for my booking in FULL and I choose to cancel my Uganda  Safari booking, will I get a refund?

Because we incur costs from when we confirm your tour booking, the following cancellation charges will be payable:

  • If canceled prior to the final payment due date a cancellation fee of the deposit applies.
  • If canceled after the final payment due date but more than 45 days before travel a cancellation fee of 50% applies, less any non-refundable deposits already paid for gorilla and chimps permits, gorilla habituation and local flight tickets.
  • If canceled less than 45 days prior to travel, a cancellation fee of 100% applies.
  • If you cut short your holiday, we are unable to offer you any refund of your holiday not completed or assist with any curtailment cost you may incur. 

For further details refer to our booking conditions.

If I choose to cancel my booking will I be covered by my holiday insurance?

You are advised to contact your insurance company, however it is highly unlikely that your insurance company will cover cancellation due to what is referred to as a disinclination to travel.

If Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris cancels my tour, am I entitled to a refund?

If Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris is forced to cancel your tour for reasons beyond our control (force majeure) you will be given the option to reschedule the tour to a future date once (subject to availability and future prices), less any deposits and /or booking fees paid in advance to hotels, suppliers, or gorilla and chimps permits, gorilla habituation permits and local flight tickets. 

How safe is doing a safari/ tour in Uganda amidst the World COVID-19 outbreak?

Since no COVID-19 infection has been reported in Uganda, you are very safe on your safari or tour. All travel agencies, the Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Wildlife Authority rigorously follow stringent safety procedures to ensure tourists don’t catch the Corona Virus disease. Such measures include:

  • All safari and tourist vehicles should have medicated sanitizers and disposal hand wipes to enable the tourists they carry regular wash their hands
  • All tourists who engage in communal activities such as gorilla trekking, boat cruises, should wear nose masks to limit chances of contacting Corona virus from other clients with whom they engage these activities.
  • Observing the 7 meter rule while observing the gorillas so as to reduce chances of either passing on or contacting any disease between the gorillas and tourists.
  • Uganda Tour operators who have clients intending to visit Uganda have been advised to encourage their clients come with their own recommended nose masks (N95) type as a mitigation factor to combat the spread of this disease
  • Places of accommodation such as lodges/resorts and hotels have been advised to provide hand washing facilities with soap to their clients and also encourage their clients to wash their hands regularly.
  • The Uganda Tourism Board has advised all tourists from countries that are worst hit by the Corona virus such as China, Japan, South Korea , Italy , Iran and Pakistan who intend to visit Uganda in the near coming months to reconsider their travel plans for the meantime as the country tries to keep its free from Coronavirus outbreak

Advice from the WHO (World Health Organization)

Here is some of the basic advice this advice from the WHO (World Health Organization).

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds! According to health experts (and common sense), one of the best ways to avoid cases of the flu, colds and other viruses is to wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face as most viruses enter the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes. 
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Use a wipe to clean off tray tables, armrests, and seatbelts on airplanes.
  • If you are sick, stay home and seek medical advice by phone. Follow the advice by your local health care authority.
  • The WHO currently advises wearing a mask only if you have symptoms or if you are taking care of someone with the illness. 

Symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease infection

Confirmed COVID-19 infections have resulted in the following symptoms: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from little and no symptoms to severely unwell. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention believe that once exposed, symptoms will present themselves between two to 14 days. 

If you have visited China in the last 14 days and are experiencing fever, cold or flu-like symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately. Before going, call ahead and inform them of your recent travels.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 often causes symptoms such as fever, runny noses, sore throats and coughing. More severe cases can also lead to difficulty in breathing, and illnesses like bronchitis, pneumonia, and in some cases even death. 

Both animals and humans can catch COVID-19, but when the virus is passed between humans and animals, it can become a different virus altogether. Some viruses are only contagious when a person is sick, while other viruses can be transmitted without the person even realising they are ill – these are especially a cause for concern as they could lead to an epidemic.

As such, scientists try to observe new viruses as closely as possible because there are so many unknowns to them – which is why COVID-19 is garnering so much attention. 

How did COVID-19 start?

In January 2020, China and the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the presence of a new virus that stemmed from several confirmed pneumonia cases occurring in the Chinese city of Wuhan in the province of Hubei. It was given the temporary name of 2019-nCoV.

Other examples of the coronavirus are the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current situation is certainly unnerving, but there is some good news to be found: unless you’re travelling to China, the risk of acquiring this infection is incredibly low, and you can easily implement simple measures to safeguard your health while you travel.

How does COVID-19 spread?

According to information issued by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person when in close contact (about six feet). 

“Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get Coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.”

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