Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, commented: “After nearly two years with Covid-19 we know a lot about the virus and the inability of travel restrictions to control its spread. But the discovery of the Omicron variant induced instant amnesia on governments which implemented knee-jerk restrictions in complete contravention of advice from the WHO – the global expert.”
IATA urges governments to reconsider all Omicron measures. “The goal is to move away from the uncoordinated, evidence absent, risk-unassessed mess that travellers face,” Walsh added.
Measures should be regularly reviewed
Public health organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO), have advised against travel curbs to contain the spread of Omicron.
WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant states that: “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivising countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.”
“All countries should ensure that the measures are regularly reviewed and updated when new evidence becomes available on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Omicron or any other variants of concern.”
The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) in the latest update to its Threat Assessment Brief on the implications of Omicron in Europe notes that ‘given the increasing number of cases and clusters in the EU/EEA without a travel history or contact with travel-related cases, it is likely that within the coming weeks the effectiveness of travel-related measures will significantly decrease, and countries should prepare for a rapid and measured de-escalation of such measures’.