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IATA proposes an alternative to arrivals quarantine

Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 27, 2020
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has issued a statement urging governments to avoid introducing quarantine measures when re-opening their air services and national economies.
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Approach   Air France
It is promoting a layered approach of measures which it says will reduce the risk of countries importing coronavirus via air travel while mitigating the possibility of transmission in cases where people may travel while unknowingly being infected.

Topics: IATA

1: Reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers:

Discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling: It is important that passengers do not travel when ill.

To encourage passengers to “do the right thing” and stay home if they are unwell or potentially exposed, airlines are offering travellers flexibility in adjusting their bookings.

Public health risk mitigation measures: IATA said it supports health screening by governments in the form of health declarations.

It says that to avoid privacy issues and cut the risk of infection possible with paper documents, standardised contact-less electronic declarations via government web portals or government mobile applications are recommended.

It noted that health screening using measures such as non-intrusive temperature checks can also play an important role.

Although temperature checks are not the most effective screening method for COVID-19 symptoms, IATA said they can act as a deterrent to travelling while unwell.

Temperature checks can also shore-up passenger confidence.

In a recent IATA survey of travellers, 80% indicated that temperature checks make them feel safer when travelling.

COVID-19 testing for travellers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk”: IATA says that when accepting travellers from countries where the rate of new infections is significantly higher, the arrival authority could consider COVID-19 testing.

It is recommended that tests are undertaken prior to arrival at the departure airport (so as not to add to airport congestion and avoid the potential for contagion in the travel process) with documentation to prove a negative result.

Tests would need to be widely available and highly accurate, with results delivered quickly.

It noted that test data would need to be independently validated so as to be mutually recognised by governments and securely transmitted to the relevant authorities.

Testing should be for active virus (polymerase chain reaction or PCR) rather than for antibodies or antigens.

2: Mitigating Risk in Cases Where an Infected Person Does Travel

Reducing the risk of transmission during the air travel journey: IATA encourages the universal implementation of the Take-Off guidelines temporary risk-based and multi-layered approach to mitigate the risks of transmitting coronavirus during air travel – published by ICAO.

The comprehensive Take-Off guidelines are closely aligned with the recommendations of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

These include mask wearing throughout the travel process, enhanced sanitisation, health declarations and social distancing where possible.

Contact tracing: This is the back-up measure, should someone be detected as infected after arrival.

IATA said the rapid identification and isolation of contacts contains the risk without large-scale economic or social disruption.

New mobile technology has the potential to automate part of the contact-tracing process, provided privacy concerns can be addressed.

Reducing risk of transmission at destination: IATA noted that various governments are introducing measures to try to limit the spread of the virus within their territory that will also mitigate the risk from travellers.

In addition, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols provide what IATA described as a pragmatic approach for the hospitality sector to enable safe tourism and restore traveller confidence.

Areas of the industry covered by the protocols include hospitality, attractions, retail, tour operators, and meeting planners.