Economies across AME have been devastated by the pandemic, and the aviation industry has been especially hard-hit. Picture: Maria Tyutina/Pexels
Economies across AME have been devastated by the pandemic, and the aviation industry has been especially hard-hit. Picture: Maria Tyutina/Pexels

IATA reveals quarantine measures threaten aviation restart in Africa, Middle East

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Jul 2, 2020

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments in Africa and the Middle East (AME) to implement alternatives to quarantine on arrival that would allow economies to restart while avoiding the importation of Covid-19 cases.

Economies across AME have been devastated by the pandemic, and the aviation industry has been especially hard-hit. Across the region, more than 8.6 million jobs in the airline industry and those businesses supported by aviation are at risk. Thousands of jobs have already been lost due to the shutdown of air traffic.

Government-imposed quarantine measures in 36 countries across Africa and the Middle East (AME) account for 40 percent of all quarantine measures globally. IATA revealed that with over 80 percent of travellers unwilling to travel when quarantine is required, the impact of these measures is that countries remain in lockdown even if their borders are open. 

Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, said AME governments must implement alternatives to quarantine measures. 

"AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers. The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods," he said. 

IATA proposed a layering of measures to protect public health while re-starting aviation. It focussed on two measures, which include reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers and mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel

IATA claims that reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers

discourages symptomatic passengers from travelling with airlines, offering flexibility to passengers who need to adjust their schedule. 

Public health risk mitigation measures such as health screening by governments in the form of health declarations are also vital. Mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel reduces the risk of transmission during the air travel journey with the implementation of the Take-Off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). By using contact tracing, they can efficiently isolate any traveller who may become symptomatic and infectious after arrival.

This, in turn, reduces the risk of transmission at the destination through overall government measures to fight the virus.

“Implementing a layered approach should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across AME,” said Albakri.

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