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IATA chief blasts ‘knee-jerk’ reaction


SINGAPORE, 6 January 2023: IATA criticises nations reintroducing Covid testing for travellers departing China, saying it is a “knee-jerk” response.

The prestigious association representing more than 300 international airlines worldwide said governments should listen to science, particularly the World Health Organisation, which opposes all travel restrictions linked to Covid-19.

Willie Walsh, Director General , IATA.

Commenting on the imposition of a travel restriction for travellers from China, IATA’s director general Willie Walsh said: “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’.”


  1. Personally, I see nothing wrong in airlines/immigration asking for a legal negative Covid test.
    They are easy to get, and anyone who can afford a plane ticket can afford to pay for a private test. Who wants to sit next to someone for 2 or 12 hours who possibly has Covid , potentially ruining your important business meeting or holiday ?

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