By Yunus Yusuf
Abuja (Precise Post) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) have reaffirmed commitment to foster greater international cooperation to contain the coronavirus and to protect the health of travellers.
The assurance was made known in a statement jointly signed by WHO Director General, Mr Tedros Ghebreyesus and ICAO Secretary General, Dr Fang Liu, in Lagos on Friday.
They said the joint statement came amidst increased international cooperation in order to coordinate a more effective response to COVID-19, and was welcomed by aviation industry groups.
The statement noted the importance of states adhering to ICAO and WHO standards relating to the prevention of the spread of communicable diseases and to follow International Health Regulations (2005).
It said ICAO had been working closely with governments and industry partners such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI).
“This is to provide guidance to aviation authorities, airlines, airports, and advice to individuals, on appropriate measures that will protect the health of travellers and reduce the risk of transmission.
“IATA and the 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,” it said.
It also noted that ICAO had issued two electronic bulletins and a state letter to urge member states to adhere to the recommendations and guidance provided by the WHO.
The statement further revealed: “given the importance of considering detailed health and disease information alongside civil aviation policies and procedures surrounding COVID-19, both ICAO and WHO have been working closely together in recent weeks to develop expert advice and ensure coordinated global action.”
It said government aviation and health officials were also reminded to enhance cross-sector collaboration at the national level and establish National Facilitation Committees as required by ICAO Standards.
It also quoted Ms. Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI, as expressing appreciation toward the multi-sector and multi-agency communication.
“The COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on aviation has highlighted the need for effective coordination and a proportionate response from states.
“ACI welcomes the leadership shown by ICAO and WHO in this regard and will 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 illnesses,” it quoted Gittens as saying.
The statement said Gittens welcomed the practical steps suggested by WHO that could assist travellers to protect themselves. (NAN)