IATA, WHO Recommend Safety MeasuresBy Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:33
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged authorities to continue to apply a risk-based approach when implementing COVID-19 measures for international travel in its ‘Policy Considerations for Implementing a Risk-Based Approach to International Travel in the Context of COVID-19’ report. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also called on states to follow the guidance of WHO on Cross-Border travel through a press release.
WHO’s recommendations for the Member States include the following:
- To not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit
- To relax 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 and are no longer infectious.
- To ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally.
WHO also recommended for the use of real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) followed by confirmatory rRT-PCR tests of positive samples, so that travelers move internationally in a safe and efficient manner.
IATA expressed its commitment to recommendations made by WHO, particularly due to the unavailability of vaccines in many countries. IATA urged its members to:
- Implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travelers only “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. 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 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,” said Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA.
The implementation of these measures is important, as many countries have not had access to as many vaccines as others. Mexico, as of July 2021 had vaccinated 54.82 million people, according to the Mexican Ministry of Health. Traveling from Mexico has increased due to more and more Mexicans being vaccinated against COVID-19, with traveling numbers increasing for EU countries such as Spain, as previously reported by MBN.