Air passengers not 'high-risk' for spreading Covid-19, new EU guidelines say

ireland
Air Passengers Not 'High-Risk' For Spreading Covid-19, New Eu Guidelines Say Air Passengers Not 'High-Risk' For Spreading Covid-19, New Eu Guidelines Say
The guidelines suggest a 14-day quarantine for passengers is effective only when a country has achieved full control over the virus. Photo: PA
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Air passengers should not be considered high-risk for spreading Covid-19 and should be treated like members of the local population who have not had any direct contact with an infected person, according to new European guidelines for air travel.

The guidelines, published jointly by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday afternoon, say travellers should “not be considered as a high-risk population, nor treated as contacts of Covid-19 cases, unless they have been in known contact with a confirmed positive case.”

Instead travellers “should be treated in the same way as local residents and be subject to the same regulations or recommendations as applied to the local population.”

Based on the latest scientific evidence and information, the document’s conclusions say the prevalence of coronavirus among travellers is estimated to be lower than is the case for the general population.

Quarantine

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As reported in The Irish Times, the guidelines suggest a 14-day quarantine is effective only in the “exceptional situation” where a country has achieved full control over the virus and reduced transmission levels to close to zero, and only then for travellers entering from countries where the virus keeps circulating.

“This new document is a true European contribution for the benefits of European citizens,” said Patrick Ky, executive director at EASA.

He said the findings would be “important in making many family reunions over Christmas possible. It builds on the measures we already put in place with the Aviation Health Safety Protocol and reinforces the view that there is no inherent risk in air travel – indeed air travellers are seen as a relatively 'Covid-safe' population.”

He called on “national decision-makers to take account of the recommendations given here when making their policies”.

Advice unchanged

The fresh advice is in stark contrast to Government advice for people overseas not to travel to Ireland for Christmas this year.

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A Government spokesman indicated on Wednesday evening that the official position here had not changed despite the updated guidelines at an EU level.

“We are strongly urging people not to fly home to visit family this Christmas – although we accept there may be a small number of very compassionate cases where this travel is essential,” he told The Irish Times.

“We are asking most people who can skip a year to do it this Christmas and come next year instead.”

Official travel projections suggest there will be around 10 per cent of the usual air traffic at Christmas this year and about 40 per cent of usual ferry traffic, which means in excess of 100,000 people will still leave and depart from Ireland over the holiday period.

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