IATA Blasts Imposition of COVID Testing on Pax From China

Willie Walsh, Director General at IATA
Willie Walsh, director general of IATA.

IATA has weighed in on the swift reinstatement of COVID restrictions by many countries, including Canada, following news from China that it's dropping its 'zero COVID' policy along with most of its stringent measures, and opening the floodgates for inbound and outbound travel.

As Open Jaw reported on 03JAN, beginning 05JAN and for at least 30 days following, Canada will require citizens of any country to provide a negative, pre-departure COVID test to board a Canada-bound flight from China, Hong Kong or Macau.

Canada joins the U.S., U.K., several EU countries, Australia, Morocco, India and Japan are among the countries who quickly announced COVID restrictions on air arrivals from China after that country opened its doors to travel. As Skift reported, countries worry about “a lack of information from China on variants and are concerned about a wave of infections. China has rejected criticism of its COVID data.”

On 04JAN, IATA's Director General, Willie Walsh, issued a statement condemning the reinstatement of any COVID measures for air travellers from China - echoing some critics in the science and medical communities in Canada and elsewhere.

But Walsh also called out China's own restrictions in his statement.

“Several countries are introducing COVID-19 testing and other measures for travellers from China, even though the virus is already circulating widely within their borders. It is extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years.

Research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections. At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days. If a new variant emerges in any part of the world, the same situation would be expected.  

That’s why governments should listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO, that advise against travel restrictions. We have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics’.

While China has significantly eased border measures, I urge the Chinese government to remove the need for pre-departure COVID-19 testing for those traveling to China.”

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