​The International Air Transport Association criticized recent requirements by a number of countries to test travelers from China for COVID-19. In a statement, Willie Walsh, director general, said 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, according to Walsh. At most, he said, 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, said Walsh, including the World Health Organization, that advise against travel restrictions. “We have the tools to manage COVID-19,” said Walsh, “without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs.” Governments, he said, must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics.’”

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