MUSCAT: A unified health passport for Covid 19 among the GCC countries is under discussion, and a step is expected to be taken on its launch in the coming weeks, Dr. Saif bin Salim al Abri, Director General of Disease Surveillance and Control at the press conference.
Around 20 airlines will begin trials for an IATA app in March that allows passengers to secure the Covid-19 vaccine and test records they need to travel internationally.
The airline industry has called on the World Health Organization to rule it is safe for people to fly without quarantining once they’ve had a coronavirus vaccine.
“We can say whatever we want, what we do need is for the WHO to come out and say the same thing so that it becomes a universal acceptance that once you’re vaccinated you should not have to go through any of these procedures,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice-president for passenger matters.
At a webinar last week, which was attended by the Observer online, IATA said its digital health passport or travel pass will be a vital tool in convincing governments to unlock their borders and allowing seamless journeys.
IATA is talking to over 30 other carriers to adopt its digital platform for passengers, Alan Hayden, head of passenger and security products, said.
“Our priority is to start the aviation system again safely,” he told a webinar hosted by IATA and the World Aviation Festival. IATA is not marketing the product directly to consumers, but rather encouraging airlines to incorporate the technology into their own apps.
Brad Moore of Qatar Airways said the IATA product was a simple app that passengers can use to travel freely and would be “central to us going forward”.
Hao Yu Dai of Singapore Airlines said governments needed to open borders, but in a calibrated way. As soon as demand began to return, a globally recognised digital solution was required to avoid delays because passengers’ health status would need to be verified at check-in.
The development of common standards for vaccine certificates, a key aspect of IATA’s proposed Travel Pass smartphone app, needs to move much faster, Careen said. Paper-based accreditation is more open to fraud, with several cases having already emerged, he said. The IATA app, which can also be used to store a negative test result, is due to be launched in March.
The WHO’S Emergency Committee on Covid-19 doesn’t recommend countries demand proof of vaccination from incoming travellers, as the impact of inoculations in reducing transmission is unknown, the agency said on January 15. Nations should instead implement coordinated, evidence-based measures for safe travel, it said.