Yesterday (11 March), the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic, with more than 125,000 confirmed cases in 114 countries and in excess of 4,600 deaths (correct at the time of writing).
The AAPA has urged authorities to roll back or refrain from introducing such measures, reiterating the WHO’s stance that advises against ‘generally infective’ travel or trade restrictions.
These can cause significant disruption to the global economy, supply chains, commerce, trade and most importantly to peoples’ livelihoods, says the AAPA.
STANDING IN SOLIDARITY
Where travel restrictions are introduced, they must be based on careful risk assessments, ensure proportionately to the risk of public health, are short term in nature, and subject to regular revision, adds the association.
Andrew Herdman, Director General, AAPA said: “The proliferation of travel restrictions worldwide, and insufficient adherence to the International Health Regulations 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.
“Governments must strengthen cooperation across borders and work together with WHO, International Civil Aviation Organization (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 says the airline industry remains fully committed to the safety and wellbeing of travellers and Asia Pacific airlines are well-equipped to deal with health crises.
Carriers are following established guidelines developed by ICAO, in consultation with the WHO and Airports Council International (ACI) in ascertaining and managing public health risks. These include hygiene and disinfection of aircraft and airline lounges and the use of hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems onboard.
INDIA LATEST TO SUSPEND VISAS
Referencing a WHO situation report from 10 March, the AAPA says that while more than 90 countries have introduced some sort of travel restrictions, only 45 have informed the WHO of additional measures and supplied the associated public health rationale required under IHR.
A number of countries in Asia Pacific, including Japan, South Korea and Thailand, have moved to restrict or suspend visa waiver schemes for tourists in the past week in an attempt to curb transmission levels.
Elsewhere, US President Donald J Trump yesterday (11 March) suspended travel to the US from Europe’s 26 Schengen countries, excluding the UK and Ireland.
India has issued a revised travel advisory that will result in visas being suspending (with a limited number of exceptions), beginning 13 March (12:00).
Ministers decided to extend the suspension until 15 April during a meeting.
All foreign nationals intending to travel to India are being advised to contact the nearest Indian mission.
Passengers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15 February will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days, beginning 13 March (12:00).
People in India are being advised to avoid non-essential travel.
Asia & Pacific,
Asia & Pacific,