Speed, Scale and Accuracy are the criteria that public health experts should be looking for if countries decide to introduce Covid-19 testing for travelers arriving from high-risk countries.
According to the criteria published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA),
- Tests should deliver results very quickly, ideally under an hour. A test capacity of several hundred tests per hour must be achievable and the results should be very accurate, with both false negative and false positive results below 1 percent.
- Also, the tests should be affordable and should ease the process of travel rather than complicate it and should ideally be borne by the governments who have asked for it.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said that “Most of Europe’s governments have not made Covid-19 testing a requirement for re-start. That is encouraging and in line with EASA and ICAO guidelines.
Testing can, however, play a role as an extra layer of protection for countries where risk is assessed at a higher level. And testing is by far a preferred alternative to quarantine measures which essentially keep a country in isolation and its tourism economy in lockdown.”
Using Iceland as an example, de Juniac indicated that the country had carried out tests on arrival as an alternative to quarantine. He emphasized that testing before departure was much more efficient.
“The challenge, however, is for governments to work together so that testing data from the departure location is accepted by the arrival state,” he said.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) launch guidelines also include measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission during air travel and stipulate that tests should not be a necessary requirement for border reopening or flight services.
According to IATA, tests should, if necessary, be carried out before arrival at the airport and
Within 24 hours of the start of the trip and if tests are required as part of the travel process, this is recommended on departure.
The arrival and departure countries should mutually recognize the test results, and data transfer should be direct between passengers and governments.
If an arrival check is required and a passenger is tested positive, the passenger should be treated in accordance with the requirements of the receiving country. Airlines should not be obliged to repatriate the passenger (s) or to “punish” them with financial penalties such as fines or with operating fines such as withdrawal of the right in the market.