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Iata calls on governments to remove quarantine restrictions

Iata has urged governments to remove quarantine restrictions and make “data-driven decisions” to manage Covid-19 as borders reopen.

Willie Walsh, Iata director general, called on the heads of G7 governments due to meet in Cornwall next week “to agree on the use of data to plan and coordinate” the return of international travel.

Iata cited evidence that vaccination protects travellers and cuts the risk of transmission between countries – including from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health England, the Robert Koch Institute of Germany and the US Centers for Disease Control.

Walsh said: “Many governments continue to require universal quarantine. Data from the UK tells us we can do better.”


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He noted the UK data showed that of 365,895 tests on arriving passengers between February 25 and May 5 only 2.2% tested positive during subsequent quarantine and, of these, more than half were from red list countries. All the passengers had tested negative for Covid-19 before travel.

Walsh argued: “We now have more than a year of global data that can help governments make more targeted decisions. This can keep the risk of importing Covid-19 cases low while restarting international travel.”

Iata joined Airbus and Boeing to demonstrate potential tools for managing Covid-19 risks while restarting air travel.

Airbus displayed a model to assist governments in assessing the risk of opening borders in light of different screening measures, while Boeing modelled the impact of testing strategies as an alternative to quarantine.

Walsh said: “The economic and social cost of the blanket measures taken by most governments has been unnecessarily high. With this modelling, we’re demonstrating calibrated travel policies [can] address the risks.”

He added: “Covid-19 is something we need to learn to manage. The data tells us screening and testing protocols can make travel safely accessible.”

Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “Governments and industry must work together to rebuild global connectivity while managing the risks.

“The first step is for governments to evaluate the threshold of risk they can effectively manage. Then they need to identify feasible strategies with industry.

“Airbus, Boeing and Iata have demonstrated some possible solutions. Now we need more intense and transparent dialogue between governments and the industry to move from models to policy.”

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