COVID-19 statement published by ICAO and WHO
The statement outlines advice regarding the coronavirus outbreak and civil aviation, as well as appropriate measures to protect the health of travellers.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a joint statement – signed by ICAO Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu, and Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and outlining updated advice regarding the virus and civil aviation.
Additionally, the statement reaffirms the two organisations’ commitment, as UN specialised agencies, to foster greater international cooperation to contain the virus and to protect the health of travellers, as well as highlighting the importance of UN member states adhering to ICAO and WHO standards relating to the prevention of the spread of communicable diseases.
ICAO has been working alongside governments and industry partners – such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) – to provide aviation authorities, airlines and airports with best practice guidance in the face of COVID-19, as well as appropriate measures that will protect the health of travellers and reduce the risk of transmission.
ICAO has issued multiple publications urging UN member states to adhere to the recommendations and guidance provided by the WHO, and to highlight ICAO’s role in providing aviation-related information on coronavirus. Due to the importance of considering detailed health and disease information alongside civil aviation policies and procedures surrounding the outbreak, both ICAO and WHO have been working closely to develop expert advice and ensure coordinated global action.
The joint statement published by the two organisations emphasised the importance of greater public-private cooperation and inter-agency dialogue, and reminded government aviation and health officials to enhance cross-sector collaboration at the national level and establish National Facilitation Committees, as required by ICAO Standards.
The statement has been necessitated by increased international cooperation in order to coordinate a more effective response to COVID-19, and was welcomed by aviation industry groups.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority. IATA and airlines are working closely with WHO, ICAO and ACI to ensure that harmonised and updated procedures are made available in order to keep passengers safe, the world connected and the virus contained. Travellers should be reassured that the industry is prepared to deal with communicable diseases as a result of experiences with previous outbreaks. The International Health Regulations of WHO are the established foundation for the coordinated global effort that will be required by all involved.”
Director General of ACI World, Angela Gittens, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on aviation has highlighted the need for effective coordination and a proportionate response from [member] states. ACI welcomes the leadership shown by ICAO and WHO in this regard and would urge states to follow WHO advice. The health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public, and limiting the spread of communicable diseases, are the priorities for the aviation industry, so it is in all of our interests to have a common, easily-understood approach to help to prevent the spread of illness. We also welcome the practical steps suggested by WHO that can assist travellers to protect themselves.”