Africa: International Aviation body, IATA Urges States to Follow WHO Cross-border Travel Guidelines

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In a bid to encourage air travel and remove any impediment to that will discourage air travellers, especially the COVID protocols being taking by countries, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on states to follow the new guidelines on travel from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to thisdaylive.com, the guidance recommends a, “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel.

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It was expected to be presented to the WHO COVID-19 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee yesterday.

Specifically, WHO recommended that governments do not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit; remove measures such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travelers who are fully vaccinated or have had a confirmed previous COVID-19 infection within the past six months; ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally.

The WHO recommended rRT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose and that 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.

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“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.

“As WHO notes—and as 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 per cent were positive for COVID-19.

“It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making process for re-opening borders,” said IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh.

WHO also called on states to communicate, “in a timely and adequate manner” any changes to international health-related measures and requirements.”

“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 per cent of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” said Walsh.

Additionally, WHO encouraged states to look at bilateral, multilateral, and regional agreements, particularly among neighboring counties, “with the aim of facilitating the recovery of key socioeconomic activities” including tourism, for which international travel plays a vital role.

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