International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments in Africa and the Middle East (AME) to implement alternatives to quarantine on arrival that would allow economies to re-start while avoiding the importation of Covid-19 cases.
Government-imposed quarantine measures in some 36 countries across Africa and the Middle East (AME) account for 40% of all quarantine measures globally, it said.
With over 80% of travellers unwilling to travel when quarantine is required, the impact of these measures is that countries remain in lockdown even if their borders are open.
“It is critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers. The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6mn people depend on aviation for their livelihoods,” IATA’s regional vice president (Africa and the Middle East) Mohamed Albakri said at a media webinar yesterday.
IATA proposes a layering of measures to protect public health while re-starting aviation, focused in two areas — reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers and mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel.
On reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers, IATA advised discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling with airlines offering flexibility to passengers who need to adjust their schedule.
It suggested public health risk mitigation measures such as health screening by governments in the form of health declarations and Covid-19 testing for travellers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk” when accurate and fast testing is available at scale.
In respect of mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel, IATA suggested reducing the risk of transmission during the air travel journey with the implementation of the take-off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The global trade body of airlines advised “contact tracing” to “efficiently isolate” any traveller who may become symptomatic and infectious after arrival and reducing risk of transmission at destination through overall government measures to fight the virus.
“Implementing a layered approach should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across AME,” Albakri added.
IATA noted economies across AME have been devastated by Covid-19, and the aviation industry has been especially hard-hit.
Across the region more than 8.6mn jobs in the airline industry and those businesses supported by aviation are at risk. Thousands of jobs have already been lost due to the shutdown of air traffic, IATA noted.
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