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IATA asks governments to allow use of antigen tests for travellers

IATA has also recommended governments to adopt recent World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to consider exempting vaccinated travelers from testing requirements. (Mint)Premium
IATA has also recommended governments to adopt recent World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to consider exempting vaccinated travelers from testing requirements. (Mint)

  • The International Air Transport Association, the airlines industry body, has asked governments to address the high cost of covid-19 tests and urged flexibility in permitting the use of cost-effective antigen tests as an alternative to more expensive PCR tests, it said in a statement on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airlines industry body, has asked governments to address the high cost of covid-19 tests and urged flexibility in permitting the use of cost-effective antigen tests as an alternative to more expensive PCR tests, it said in a statement on Thursday.

IATA has also recommended governments to adopt recent World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to consider exempting vaccinated travelers from testing requirements.

“IATA supports Covid-19 testing as a pathway to reopen borders to international travel. But our support is not unconditional. In addition to being reliable, testing needs to be easily accessible, affordable, and appropriate to the risk level," IATA director general Willie Walsh said.

"Too many governments, however, are falling short on some or all of these. The cost of testing varies widely between jurisdictions, with little relation to the actual cost of conducting the test," Walsh added.

IATA said that according to its latest traveler survey, 86% of respondents are willing to get tested while 70% of respondents believe that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel, and 78% believe governments should bear the cost of mandatory testing.

"Provided a confirmatory RT-PCR test is administered for positive test results, WHO guidance sees Ag-RDT antigen testing as an acceptable alternative to PCR," IATA said in the statement.

"And, where testing is a mandatory requirement, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHRs) state that neither passengers nor carriers should bear the cost of testing," it added.

Restarting international travel is vital to supporting the 46 million travel and tourism jobs around the world that rely on aviation, said IATA's director general Walsh.

“Our latest survey confirms that the high cost of testing will bear heavily on the shape of the travel recovery. It makes little sense for governments to take steps to reopen borders, if those steps make the cost of travel prohibitive to most people," he added.

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