November 29 2021  |  Associations

ACI calls for science-based pragmatic approach to new variant

By Wendy Morley

A new variant of concern, labeled "Omicron," first identified in South Africa, is now being found in many countries. Surging COVID-19 cases have already created an environment where governments are revising policies, and this new development has the potential to drive governments to walk back border openings.

As of yet, however, it is not clear either how transmissible the new variant is nor how severe the result of infection.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira has urged for a scientific-based approach to global governmental response, commenting:

“While public health remains the utmost priority, we call upon governments to coordinate to implement pragmatic and risk-based measures based on science.

“Furthermore, we continue to urge countries to work closely with aviation stakeholders—including airports and airlines—prior to and during the implementation of travel measures to facilitate a more efficient application.

“This situation is another reminder of the urgent need for countries to adopt interoperable digital health credentials for testing and vaccination that are mutually recognized across borders. This will allow countries to better manage their travel measures and adapt to the evolving health situation.

“The entire aviation ecosystem needs to work together with governments to ensure a safe resumption of travel—one that can be sustained to enable the rebuilding of livelihoods, countries and economies. Coordination and collaboration will be key to achieving this. Full travel bans and border closures are not an ongoing solution as variants emerge.”

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