Civilian contractors working overseas face exposure to Covid-19 and may not be able to obtain adequate medical care. The Defense Department is taking preventive measures to protect US military personnel and civilian contractors. The Defense Department has ordered everyone on DOD property to wear face masks. This includes civilian contractors.
Even if you use a mask, you may be asking yourself:
- What happens if I start showing symptoms?
- What happens if I am diagnosed with coronavirus?
- What happens if I contract it while I am off duty?
- What if I contracted it while working as a first responder?
- What if I do not know how I got it?
- Who pays for my health care—my health insurance or the contractor’s DBA insurance?
COVID (also called Coronavirus) is COVERED under DBA employment
If you start to show symptoms of COVID, it is important you consult with the base medic immediately. If you get infected with COVID while deployed, you are covered under your employer’s Defense Base Act insurance policy. If you contract a serious case of COVID, your employer may send you home on MLOA—medical leave of absence. Treatment options for COVID are presently limited.
If you are considering other leave options, you should keep in mind the 8 Tips to Help Your Defense Base Act Claim to Be Accepted. It is important you reach out to an experienced Defense Base Act attorney who can discuss the facts of your case and give you advice during this pandemic.
While evacuations may be limited due to the pandemic, you can still reach out to your local embassy for flight information for foreign nationals. If your employer is not approving MLOA (Medical Leave of Absence) due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, you may need to consider reserving a ticket (most likely at your own expense) on a repatriation flight organized through the US embassy if you are an American working overseas.
Covid has a rebound effect where you get better and then get worse so restrict your activities until you are completely healthy and test negative for the virus. If you find yourself stuck overseas, continue to seek treatment with the base medic or local hospital until travel restrictions have been lifted.
Civilian Contractors in Iraq
According to the US Embassy in Iraq, flights to and from Iraq continue to be suspended until May 22nd with the possibility of being further extended. On April 28, 2020, the U.S Embassy in Iraq issued an alert regarding Flight Information.
If you are an American citizen in Iraq and want to depart Iraq, you should contact the US Embassy so they can notify you of any flights being arranged.
- Email the US Embassy at ErbilACS@state.gov if you are located in the Kurdistan Region.
- If you are elsewhere in Iraq, contact the US embassy at BaghdadACS@state.gov.
Civilian Contractors in Afghanistan
As of April 11, 2020, three government contractors infected with COVID-19 were evacuated from Afghanistan using a containment unit in the aircraft. The Air Force transported the contractors to Germany to receive medical treatment. ABC News acknowledged this was the first evacuation conducted by the U.S. military since the pandemic unfolded.
According to the US Embassy in Afghanistan, all flights have been suspended. On April 2, 2020, the Embassy issued a message to American citizens regarding the possibility of repatriation flights. In order to register for a possible repatriation flight back to the United States, American citizens must have completed the Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler by April 18th and be enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Even though registration has closed, you can do the following:
- Contact the US Embassy at KabulRepat@state.gov for more information on any future repatriation flights.
- Register for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program if you have not already done so.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or get injured during this pandemic, it is important you talk to an attorney before making any decisions that could affect what benefits you are entitled to under the Defense Base Act.
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