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Zika Virus beware of Thomson First Choice advice

(66 Posts)
dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 01:08:27

Another member suggested I post this here as well as travel hope it helps people to stay safe.

Thomson Holidays and First Choice Holidays do not recognise Cape Verde as having Zika Virus (despite 4000+ cases) so you may find you have trouble getting refunds/ changing your holiday - I'm currently in this situation would have no problem going if I wasn't 25 weeks pregnant.

They won't change my flights until the FCO put out a specific warning for Cape Verde. Staff in shops also giving out its "safe as far as they are concerned" advice.

So please be wary if pregnant and check all advice before traveling or booking. Trying to get their attention via twitter but seems to be falling on deaf ears any retweets greatly appreciated twitter.com/HareDawn/status/691344415592468485
I've already decided I'll not go whatever happens but want to help awareness for all pregnant women

dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 01:23:15

Sorry should have added as not in travel forum this is despite warnings from NHS fit for travel site and www.gov.uk/guidance/zika-virus
They don't recognise Cape Verde as FCO have not put an explicit warning on Cape Verde site saying Zika Fever is present.

However FCO does say "If you travel to this region you should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre" which in turn says "Pregnant women are advised to reconsider travel to areas where Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks are currently reported as further evidence for a possible link between ZIKV infection and congenital malformations emerges" and "As of 3 December 2015, a total of 4182 Zika cases have now been registered in the Cape Verde Islands."

BillSykesDog Mon 25-Jan-16 01:24:37

Thanks, that's useful.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 08:59:38

dhare1 I would be sending the FCO stuff to Thomsons if I were you. looks pretty clear to me - should reconsider travel in my book means don't go unless you have to and you don't have to because this is a holiday.

go back to them with this and let us know what they say.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 10:58:46

any news from Thomson Op?

dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 11:15:48

Hi Mummymeister Thomson are going to phone me between 12 & 2 but I suspect it will be to discuss my case only - I really feel now that they should be changing policy for all pregnant women.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 11:24:53

quite agree. the advice seems pretty clear to me dhare1 you cant be the only person in this position - though in fairness very few on MN seem to be commenting or posting. would have thought a lot more woman would be looking at where they have booked to go this summer and be raising the same issues as you have. fingers crossed they see sense on this for you.

Catphrase Mon 25-Jan-16 11:30:15

I'm hoping midwives are giving out this information, I saw one quick clip about it on the news where a woman seemed more bothered by missing her 'baby moon' than appreciating that if the advice wasn't there and she'd travelled her baby could have been affected.
But there's been very little advice / news about it out there.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 11:40:47

I did post the link to the FCO site on a different board on MN catphrase the list of places in the Caribbean that are affected is long and I suspect they want to down play it because it will really affect their bookings. places like sandals - all couples - really will feel it. can post it here if wanted.

tomatodizzy Mon 25-Jan-16 11:48:20

Good luck, I hope they refund you. It's quite shocking that they are doing this. Just had to google baby moon, you live and learn!

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 12:23:56

These are the countries listed so far

Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela and Cape Verde.

AuntieStella Mon 25-Jan-16 12:27:38

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35399403

WHO is warning that is is set to spread to all the Americas.

Until it is confirmed as present, you're unlikely to get a refund. Both travel and insurance companies will refund/rearrange/pay up if the FCO travel advice says not to travel. But may not do so if there is no such official advice.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 12:36:18

other countries like new Zealand are saying don't travel if you are pregnant of ttc though AuntieStella? there are 3 confirmed cases in the UK. what more evidence do they need that these are not the places to go if you are pregnant or ttc. the worry factor would be enough but this is a proper risk now. why are they so slow to react and get beaten to it by other countries?

YouGottaKeepEmSeparated Mon 25-Jan-16 12:40:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 12:44:32

Thanks everyone will update as soon as I hear anything. The problem is there is clear advice as stated by mummymeister according to 2 different UK Government departments - NHS & Public Health England - but FCO has been slow to pick up advice and apply explicitly to Cape Verde which is giving the holiday companies the excuse they need to not to act. But what's wrong is store and phone staff will say it's safe to travel unless their is an FCO alert.

Vaw1 Mon 25-Jan-16 12:52:29

Had to register just so I could join in. I have the same problem. Booked my holiday last Saturday and now if I want to cancel I will only be entitled to 30% back of the cost of my holiday. Unless the FCO update their website. I have gone round and round in circles with Thomson. They have basically said to me that until the FCO updates their website no help or compensation will be given to pregnant women. That's it. They couldn't care less.

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 12:57:07

Vaw1 have you had a look at advice from other countries? perhaps if both of you let Thomson know it is all over MN then they might change their stance.

AuntieStella Mon 25-Jan-16 12:57:56

What is happening in NZ isn't going to make the slightest bit of difference to how British companies see it. Activation of refunds/payouts/penalty free rebooking has been based on official government advice for ages.

And it's usually pretty fast to update (same day) though it says there isn't an embassy in Cape Verde which might account for it being slower than the others.

The snag is that they are not currently saying 'do not go', but instead referring to another organisation, travelhealthpro.org.uk/zika-virus-update-and-advice-for-pregnant-women/ which advises reconsidering, but again falls short of saying 'do not go'.

Vaw1 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:08:23

mummymeister I've tried everything. I have spoken to them in store, over the phone and through their facebook page. As it stands, anyone with holidays to Barbados or Mexico, before April 30th have had refunds or been able to change holiday free of charge. Cape Verde, they will not do anything until FCO say so. I have said I want another call today with some more information in terms of what they are going to do to help me. Because I will not take 'it's safe to travel' as an answer. So I will keep you updated.

dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:12:34

Well it seems that persistence and an email to the CEO have finally paid off Thomson have just changed my flights and the have said that the FCO alert has finally come through to them about Cape Verde.

However someone has been in touch on twitter saying they now have the same problem with Dominican Republic which as of yesterday has 10 confirmed cases.

So please be careful out there pregnant ladies and check for Zika virus before you book.

AuntieStella Mon 25-Jan-16 13:13:45

not being on Twitter, I've no idea how well this would work, but could you try tweeting FCO travel advice, pointing out that Cape Verde needs an urgent update?

mobile.twitter.com/fcotravel/

AuntieStella Mon 25-Jan-16 13:14:36

X-post!

Glad that things are moving now!

Vaw1 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:24:59

dhare1 Could you post the details of who you emailed and spoke with. anything in particular that you said to get them to agree to a change over. Just So we can try to do the same!
Thanks

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 13:39:57

dhare1 Dominican republic is in my list up post. an awful lot of countries. the reason this is different from something like chikungunya is because of the pregnant/ttc element.

I always get bitten on holiday. even with long sleeves and long trousers smothered in deet. for some reason I am a magnet.

the only way to avoid it is not to go I guess. I think that there are a lot of people who have no real idea about this virus.

3 confirmed cases in the UK all got when abroad. Hope that Vaw1 gets their flight changed as well.

dhare1 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:41:28

Vaw1 I emailed the CEO david.burling@thomson.co.uk basically pointed out the facts - 2 UK Govt departments advising against travel to Cape Verde for preganant women due to Zika and FCO pointing to those sources but not explicitly stating should be enough for them to change my booking, also asked what his advice would be to a pregnant member of his family.

Finally I didn't ask for a refund just a change as ultimately it's not Thomsons fault it happened. Also asked they changed advice for all pregnant women not just me.

The lady who made my change said they have now had update to include Cape Verde as Zika affected so if you're heading there you should have less hassle than me. Otherwise good luck!

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