How to travel safely over the December holidays


With domestic and international travel now open, how can South Africans keep each other safe from COVID-19? Discovery Vitality’s Head of Wellness, Dr Mosima Mabunda, shares top tips for safe travelling in level 1 lockdown as well as important updates to the Vitality travel benefit.

“South Africa is still recording thousands of new COVID-19 infections daily, so we must continue to be cautious,” says Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Discovery Vitality. “In line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s guidance, let’s work together to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 infection in South Africa,” she adds.

How to stay safe when you travel

With travel restrictions opening, consider the existing knowledge and some key points around travel, says Dr Mabunda. “For instance, we know that being on an aircraft is relatively safe due to strict conditions and strong air filters. As an added precaution, turn the ventilation nozzle above your seat towards your head. It’s the exposure risk at an airport during queueing and boarding that you must also consider carefully. The same for being in a vehicle with family or friends. Again, we know we can mitigate risk by wearing masks, with social distancing and adequate sanitising.”

Dr Mabunda shares the following tips to stay safe while you travel:

  • Don’t make travel plans if you are feeling sick. Even if you don’t have COVID-19, a compromised immune system makes you more vulnerable.
  • When travelling by bus, train, taxi or domestic flight, wear a mask and try not to touch other people, objects or surfaces. Sanitise your hands with an alcohol-based sanitiser while you travel and wash your hands immediately for 20 seconds when you reach your destination.
  • Try to keep your distance in queues and observe sanitising procedures in public spaces, like bathrooms. Discovery Bank Purple and Black cardholders can use Priority Fast Track to skip the security queues at OR Tambo International Airport domestic departures. Simply show your Discovery Bank card or virtual card  to access the Priority Fast Track lane.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, use an online reservation and check-in system, mobile room keys and contactless payments when available.
  • Phone ahead to ask about the hotel’s strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is no need to deep-clean and sanitise every surface. High-touch areas like doorknobs and kettles need to be sanitised, and regular handwashing with soap and water will kill any viruses.
  • Limit your use of common areas as much as possible, for example, bathrooms, ATMs, hot tubs, swimming pools, salons, gyms, and spas.
  • Opt for stairs over elevators. If you do use elevators, ride alone or only with close family members.
  • Use contactless and self-service options when available.
  • Go outside. Spend more time outdoors, particularly in the sun and sea, which are safe, sanitary environments. Try to eat outdoors or sit near windows at well-ventilated restaurants.  

Dr Mabunda adds that by now, we should be well versed with the World Health Organization’s recommended guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “It’s important to adhere to all these requirements, even if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 before because there is not enough information about immunity. COVID-19 spreads through contact between people. It is the year that we aren’t hugging and kissing our loved ones. To keep them safe, we should continue to be mindful,” Dr Mabunda adds, “So, be responsible and cautious when you leave your home.”

What’s the update for Discovery Bank clients and Vitality members?

Vitality’s much-missed travel booking platform, is now open for local and international flights, holiday accommodation and car-hire bookings. Discovery Bank clients with Vitality Money and a Vitality Health membership can get an upfront discount of up to 75%. International flight bookings are also now open, and British Airways (operated by Comair) domestic flight bookings will be available soon.

Are your COVID-19-related expenses covered when you travel?

If you pay for travel using your Discovery Bank Gold, Platinum, Black or Purple credit card, or a Discovery Bank Black or Purple debit card, you qualify for travel insurance. This travel insurance covers the costs of your flights and accommodation in the event of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis before your trip, as well as medical cover in the event of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis during your trip. This cover is available through Oojah (underwritten by Hollard) or Visa (underwritten by Chubb) for travel incidents relating to medical issues (including COVID-19).

Read more about the travel insurance cover for COVID-19 and the terms and conditions of the Discovery Bank travel insurance policy.

Your flight credits on bookings affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

If you have flight credits due to you because of flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you will receive communication directly from to let you know when this credit redemption facility becomes available. In the meantime, don’t forget that you can use your Discovery Miles to pay for your flight, accommodation and car hire bookings either in part or in full.

Read the latest updates from the world of Vitality and our travel partners.

This article is meant only as information and should not be taken as financial advice. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser.

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