The global trade association of airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has asked states to follow the new guidance published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on cross-border travel.
The new guidance from WHO recommends a “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel. It will be presented to the WHO COVID-19 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on July 15.
WHO has included certain recommendations for governments:
- Do not make the proof for COVID-19 vaccination a mandatory condition for entry or exit
- Remove measures like testing and/or quarantine for travelers who are fully vaccinated or those had a confirmed previous COVID-19 infection within the past six months
- Alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they can also travel. The WHO recommends rRT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose
- Only implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travelers “on a risk-based manner” with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary
“These commonsense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimizing the chance of importing COVID-19,” said Mr. Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.
The latest UK testing data proves international travelers are not a high-risk group in terms of COVID-19. Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the UK since February, only 1.4 percent were positive for COVID-19. It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into the risk-based decision-making process for re-opening borders.
“Consumers face a maze of confusing, uncoordinated and fast-changing border entry rules that discourage them from traveling, causing economic hardship across those employed in the travel and tourism sector. According to our latest passenger survey, 70 percent of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand.”
In its recommendations WHO also called on states to communicate in a timely and adequate manner any changes to international health-related measures and requirements.
Additionally, WHO encouraged states to look at bilateral, multilateral, and regional agreements, particularly among neighboring counties, to facilitate the recovery of key socioeconomic activities including tourism, for which international travel plays a vital role.
“The pandemic has put more than 46 million jobs, normally supported by aviation, at risk. By incorporating these latest WHO recommendations into their border opening strategies, states can begin to reverse the economic damage of the past 18 months and put the world on the road to recovery,“ Mr. Walsh added.