AMMAN – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments in Africa and Middle East (AME) to implement testing as an alternative to quarantine measures when re-opening their economies.
Thirty-five countries in Africa and the Middle East have government-imposed quarantine measures in place. This is an increase of seven countries since August.
According to IATA the impact is that the region effectively remains in lockdown despite borders being open. Recent public opinion research showed that 88% of travellers would not even consider travelling if quarantine measures were imposed at their destination.
“Mandatory quarantine measures stop people from travelling. We understand that governments’ priority is on protecting the well–being of their citizens. Quarantine destroys livelihoods. Testing is an alternative method that will also save travel and tourism jobs,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
IATA’s latest survey of passenger attitudes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shows 72% of people surveyed agreed that those who test negative for Covid-19 should not have to quarantine and that 80% of people feel that the pandemic is sufficiently under control in the country to open borders.
However, IATA has cautioned that quarantines, closed borders and travel restrictions continue to decimate travel demand in Africa and the Middle East.
Official figures show that traffic levels in Africa and the Middle East saw the largest drop of all regions in July compared to 2019 levels. Total passenger traffic in Africa in July 2020 was 93.7% below 2019 levels and in the Middle East 95.5% below 2019 levels.
The association, which represents the majority of the world’s airlines’ pointed out that aviation supported more than 6.2 million jobs and US$56 billion in GDP in Africa and 2.4 million jobs and US$130 billion in GDP in the Middle East pre-Covid-19.
The economic impact of the collapse in air traffic in 2020 due to the virus is estimated at 3.5 million lost jobs and US$35 billion in GDP in Africa and 1.5 million lost jobs and US$85 billion in GDP in the Middle East.
“Testing provides a safe alternative to quarantine and a solution to stop the economic and social devastation being caused by Covid-19,” said Albakri.