Published on : Friday, March 13, 2020
The World Health Organistion (WHO) has indicated that the novel coronavirus outbreak is now present in more than 100 countries, the spread is majorly through local transmission rather than from imported cases.
The agency has repeatedly advised against the travel or trade restrictions as they are generally ineffective.
On 10 March 2020, WHO issued the latest situation report that although over 90 countries have introduced some form of travel restrictions out of which only 45 states have informed WHO of such additional measures and provide the associated public health rayionale as needed under the International Health Regulations (IHR).
AAPA stated that travel restrictions cause significant disruptions to supply chains, commerce trade and most importantly to peoples’ livelihoods due to severe economic impact.
Medical experts have stated that air travel is safe and the airline industry is strictly following the WHO and IATA guideline on inflight hygiene and dismection. This includes stepping up of cleaning aircraft and air lounges and the use of hospital grade HEPA air filtration systems on board aircraft.
They were not aware of any reports of Covid-19 infectiosn attributed to inflight transmission.
Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, reiterated what he asserted that the airline industry is fully committed to the safety and well-being of the travelling public. Asia Pacific airlines are also well-equipped to handle health crises, and are strictly following established guidelines.
The proliferation of travel restrictions worldwide and insufficient adherence to the IHR is imposing enormous costs on society with little or no public health benefits.
The leadership of WHO was appreciated by AAPA on this issue and calls on governments to fundamentally reconsiders the rationale for such travel restrictions and measures considering the disruption caused to people’s livelihood and negative repercussion to the wider economy.