Like hundreds of thousands of people across the world, the super-rich are preparing to self-isolate in the face of an escalation in the coronavirus crisis. But their plans extend far beyond stocking up on hand sanitizer and TV box-sets. The world’s richest people are chartering private jets to set off for holiday homes or specially prepared disaster bunkers in countries that, so far, appear to have avoided the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak. Many are understood to be taking personal doctors or nurses on their flights to treat them and their families in the event that they become infected. The wealthy are also besieging doctors in private clinics in Harley Street, London, and across the world, demanding private coronavirus tests.
To avoid overwhelming limited testing facilities, the NHS said it would test only people with a “high chance” of having the illness – meaning people who had had close contact with a confirmed case or who had recently gone to a high-risk country. Mark Ali, chief executive and medical director of the Private Harley Street Clinic, said: “This has led to huge demand from very wealthy people asking if they can pay for private testing. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer testing, as the NHS has said all tests should be done centrally.” The Department of Health and Social Care has mandated that all tests must be carried out by the NHS and Public Health England (PHE).
However, an employee at another Harley Street practice, who declined to be named, said their clinic had arranged for concerned clients to be tested in other countries, or for samples to be sent abroad for testing. Ali, a cardiovascular surgeon, said his clients had pleaded for Covid-19 vaccination, even though scientists said it would be at least a year until a vaccine was developed. Twidell said other rich clients were arranging flights out of the UK and other European countries in advance of the possible introduction of nationwide quarantine measures following Italy’s lead. Quintessentially said one of its members had converted his home into a “military-style bunker” and was refusing any visitors unless they could provide detailed records of their movements and contacts. Robert Vicino, founder and chief executive of Vivos Group, a California-based company constructing underground shelters designed to withstand a range of natural disasters and catastrophes, said his firm had seen a surge in inquiries and sales since the crisis took hold. –Guardian