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International travel must be allowed and not be under the permanent shadow of vaccination checks, says IATA. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Countries must be willing to take on some risk to get their international flight services adjust to operating in COVID-19 times.

This is what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be advising governments, and get them to implement the World Health Organisation’s latest travel guidance. The guidance recommends a ‘risk-based approach’ in implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel.

This will be presented to the WHO’s COVID-19 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee later today.

The ‘guidance’

Under these measures, governments will:

• 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 travellers 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 recommends rRT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose.

• Only 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 are lifted when no longer necessary.

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

- Willie Walsh of IATA

“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 Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General. "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.”