Photo: Julian Herzog

MIAMI– The International Air Transport Association ( IATA) urged governments in Africa and the Middle East (AME) to introduce quarantine alternatives on arrival that would allow economies to restart while preventing COVID-19 cases from being imported.

In 36 countries across Africa and the Middle East (AME), government-imposed quarantine measures account for 40% of all quarantine measures globally.

For more than 80% of travelers reluctant to travel when quarantine is needed, the effect of these policies is that even when their borders are open, countries remain in lockdown.

IATA Headquarters

Statement from IATA Regional Vice President

Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, stated that it was critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures, noting that AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

Albakri added, “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,” added Albakri.

“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.

Proposed IATA measures

IATA proposes a layering of measures to protect public health while re-starting aviation, focused in two areas:

  • Reducing the risk of imported cases via travelers
    • Discouraging symptomatic passengers from traveling 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.
    • COVID-19 testing for travelers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk” when accurate and fast testing is available at scale.
  • Mitigating Risk in Cases Where an Infected Person Does Travel
  • Reducing 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).
  • Contact tracing to efficiently isolate any traveler who may become symptomatic and infectious after arrival.
  • Reducing risk of transmission at destination through overall government measures to fight the virus.