The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) says now is the time for a fundamental rethink on travel restrictions that have been put in place due to the coronavirus.
According to the WHO, the coronavirus outbreak has now spread to over 100 countries. Furthermore, in the majority of the countries, the spread is now predominantly through local transmission rather than from imported cases. WHO has repeatedly advised against travel or trade restrictions as such measures are generally ineffective.
Due to the severe economic impact, travel restrictions cause significant disruptions to supply chains, commerce, trade and peoples’ livelihoods.
AAPA says the airline industry has been adhering strictly to WHO and IATA guidelines on inflight hygiene and disinfection, including the stepping up of cleaning of aircraft and airline lounges, and the use of hospital grade HEPA air filtration systems on board aircraft. The association stated it is not aware of any reports of COVID-19 infections attributed to inflight transmission.
“The airline industry is fully committed to the safety and wellbeing of the travelling public. Asia Pacific airlines are well-equipped to handle health crises, and are strictly following established guidelines developed by the International Air Transport Association, in consultation with the WHO and Airports Council International, covering the management of public health risks,” AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said.
“However, the proliferation of travel restrictions worldwide, and insufficient adherence to the IHR are imposing enormous costs on society with little or no public health benefits. AAPA appreciates the leadership of WHO on this issue and calls on governments to fundamentally reconsider the rationale for such travel restrictions and measures, taking into account the disruption caused to people’s livelihoods and the negative repercussions to the wider economy.”
“Governments must strengthen cooperation across borders and work together with WHO, ICAO, and other stakeholders to develop a more globally co-ordinated set of policy measures, in addressing the current outbreak, avoiding unnecessary social and economic disruption. Additional resources could then be directed towards strengthening the public health response”, Herdman concluded.
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