IATA calls for systematic COVID-19 testing before departure

_A Monitor Report 01 Sep, 2020 | 760 Views|-+
Geneva : The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for the development and deployment of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic COVID-19 testing for all passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine measures in order to reestablish global air connectivity.

International travel is 92 per cent down on 2019 levels. Over half a year has passed since global connectivity was destroyed as countries closed their borders to fight COVID-19. Some governments have cautiously reopened borders since then, but there has been limited uptake because either quarantine measures make travel impractical or the frequent changes in COVID-19 measures make planning impossible.

"The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travellers before departure. This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work," said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA.

The economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments. The human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry-on which at least 65.5 million jobs depend-collapses before the pandemic ends.

And the amount of government support needed to avert such a collapse is rising. Already lost revenues are expected to exceed USD 400 billion and the industry was set to post a record net loss of over USD 80 billion in 2020 under a more optimistic rebound scenario than has actually unfolded.

IATA's public opinion research revealed strong support for COVID-19 testing in the travel process. Some 65 per cent of travellers surveyed agreed that quarantine should not be required if a person tests negative for COVID-19.

Passengers' support for testing is evident in the following survey results: 84 per cent agreed that testing should be required of all travellers. 88 per cent agreed that they are willing to undergo testing as part of the travel process.

IATA does not see COVID-19 testing becoming a permanent fixture in the air travel experience, but it will likely be needed into the medium-term for air travel to re-establish itself.

Comments on studies regarding onboard transmission

We are aware of the specific incidents on the studied flights (London to Hanoi and a Boston to Hong Kong), as well as other flights where secondary transmission onboard has potentially occurred.

IATA references incidents of onboard transmission in its Medical Evidence for Possible Strategies (pdf) to help the industry in its efforts to keep flying safe.

There have been millions of flights since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. And there are very few reported incidents where onboard transmission is suspected. We believe that the data is telling us that the risk of onboard transmission of the virus is low when compared with other public indoor environments, such as trains, buses, restaurants and workplaces. There are published examples which indicate a much higher risk in these environments.

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