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Healthcare and Hospitals in Corfu
- The European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC) is issued free of charge and allows anyone who is insured by or covered by a statutory social security scheme of the EEA countries and Switzerland to receive medical treatment in another member state for free or at a reduced cost, if that treatment becomes necessary during their visit (for example, due to illness or an accident), or if they have a chronic pre-existing condition which requires care such as kidney dialysis. The intention of the scheme is to allow people to continue their stay in a country without having to return home for medical care; as such, it does not cover people who have visited a country for the purpose of obtaining medical care, nor does it cover care, such as many types of dental treatment, which can be delayed until the visitor returns home.
It only covers healthcare which is normally covered by a statutory health care system in the visited country, so it does not render travel insurance obsolete.
- Emergency treatment is free to all nationalities in public hospitals. In an emergency dial 166.
- Pharmacies can dispense medicines that are available only on prescription in most European countries, so you can consult a pharmacist for minor ailments.
- All this sounds fine, but although medical training is of a high standard in Greece, the health service is badly under funded and one of the worst in Europe. Hospitals are overcrowded, hygiene is not always what it should be and relatives are expected to bring in food and clean bedding for the patient - which could be a problem for a tourist. Conditions are better in private hospitals, which are expensive. All this means that a good health-insurance policy is essential.
- Always take care what you eat and drink. Stomach upsets affect up to 30% of travellers, but the majority of those are relatively minor. Don't be put off trying the local food but do take simple precautions like washing or peeling fruit and vegetables. Tap water is safe to drink in Corfu but most people prefer bottled water.
- In hot weather make sure you drink enough. It's a good idea to have a bottle of water with you. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. This is one of the biggest health risks here. You can get sunburnt surprisingly quickly, even through cloud. Use sunscreen, sun block for lips and noses, and wear a hat. Remember to protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses. Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid insect bites by covering exposed flesh, screen windows, use a mosquito net and insect repellents. One word of warning; you'll frequently find small electric devices in your room that heat a tablet which gives off a vapour which kills mosquitoes. If you use them, try to position them close to an open window or door as breathing in the vapour all night can give you a headache.
- Two other hazards are worth mentioning. Corfu Hospital is usually full of people whose holidays have been involuntarily curtailed due to coming off bikes and scooters, very often through no fault of their own. If you rent a bike or scooter wear strong trousers, a good jacket and proper shoes. Just imagine the result of sliding along a gritty road in only a pair of shorts and flip-flops. It is law that all renters must now provide a crash helmet. Wear it.
- Be aware that there can be strong currents around the island, especially on the west coast. Always supervise children in the sea and obey the warning flags on the beaches.
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