The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday, July 15, called on states to follow the new World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on travel which will be presented to the WHO COVID-19 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee today (July 15).
The guidance recommends a “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel.
Specifically, WHO urged governments to scrap the requirement of showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit.
Governments should also remove measures such as testing and quarantine requirements for travelers who are fully vaccinated or have had a confirmed previous COVID-19 infection within the past six months
In addition, they should ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally.
The WHO recommends RT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose.
However, test and quarantine measures for international travelers should only be “on a risk-based manner”, with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary.
“These commonsense recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimizing the chance of importing COVID-19,” IATA Director General, Willie Walsh underscored.
“International travelers are not a high-risk group in terms of COVID-19,” he explained.
“Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the United Kingdom 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 process for re-opening borders,” according to the IATA Director General.
WHO also called on states to communicate any changes to international health-related measures and requirements “in a timely and adequate manner”.
“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,” Walsh pointed out.
“According to our latest passenger survey, 70% of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” he added.
Furthermore, 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.
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,“ Walsh concluded.

Source: Manila Bulletin (