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IATA calls on governments to follow new WHO travel guidance

The guidelines recommend a risk-based approach in implementing Covid-19 regulations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governing bodies to follow new guidance on travel from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recommends a “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to Covid-19 and international travel, and suggests adopting the following procedures:

  • Do not require proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit
  • Relax measures such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travellers who are fully vaccinated or have confirmed previous Covid-19 infection within the past six months 
  • Ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so they’re able to travel. The WHO recommends rRT-PCR tests, or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) followed by confirmatory rRT-PCR tests of positive samples, for this purpose
  • Implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travellers “on a risk-based manner” with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they’re lifted when no longer necessary

Speaking about the updated guidelines, IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “These commonsense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimising the chance of importing Covid-19. As WHO notes – and as the latest UK testing data proves – international travellers 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% were positive for Covid-19. It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making processes for re-opening borders.”

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The WHO also called on governments to communicate any changes to international health-related measures and requirements “in a timely and adequate manner” to reduce confusion for travellers. According to the latest passenger survey by the WHO, 70% of recent travellers thought the rules were a challenge to understand.

According to Walsh, the pandemic has put more than 46 million jobs, normally supported by aviation, at risk. He added: “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.”

See the updated guidelines here 

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