Where should COVID-19 tests fit into travel process and who pays?


Should governments choose to introduce COVID-19 testing for travelers arriving from countries considered as high risk, the IATA says that testing must deliver results fast, be able to be conducted at scale, and operate to very high rates of accuracy.

Additionally, testing must be cost-effective and not create an economic or logistical barrier to travel.

“Airlines are committed to reducing the risks of COVID-19 transmission via air travel and COVID-19 testing could play an important role. But it must be implemented in line with ICAO’s global re-start guidance with the aim of facilitating travel. Speed, scale and accuracy are the most critical performance criteria for testing to be effectively incorporated into the travel process,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Technology for rapid point-of-care Polymerized Chain Reaction (PCR) testing could be a useful layer of protection for travelers from countries considered as higher risk, potentially removing the need for more burdensome and intrusive measures such as quarantine which is a major barrier to travel and the recovery of demand.

As part of the travel process, COVID-19 testing would need to be conducted by trained public health officials and meet the following criteria:

Speed: Testing results should be delivered quickly, with results available in under an hour as the minimum standard.

Scale: If testing takes place at the airport, testing capacity of several hundreds of tests per hour must be achievable. The use of saliva for taking samples rather than nasal or throat swabs would facilitate this and would also be expected to reduce time and improve passenger acceptance.

Accuracy: Extremely high accuracy is essential. Both false negative and false positive results must be below 1%.

Where does testing fit in the travel process?

Ideally COVID-19 testing would be required in advance of arrival at the airport and within 24 hours of travel. Passengers arriving “ready-to-fly” reduces the risk of contagion in the airport and enables early re-accommodation for any traveler who tests positive.

If testing is required as part of the travel process, it is recommended at departure. Governments would need to mutually recognize test results and data transmission should take place directly between passengers and governments in a similar manner as e-visa clearances are currently handled.

Any testing requirements should only be in place for as long as necessary. To ensure this, regular evaluations should be conducted.

Who Should Pay?

Cost is an important consideration. Testing should facilitate travel and not provide an economic barrier. With testing at some European destinations costing in excess of $200, this is a real concern.

IATA supports the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations which requires governments to bear the costs of mandatory health testing. Where a test is offered on a voluntary basis, it should be charged at cost price.

What happens when someone tests positive?

If testing takes place prior to travel or at the point of departure and a positive result would mean that the passenger could not travel as planned. In this case, airlines have been offering flexibility to consumers. This includes re-booking or refunds in line with the airline’s commercial policy. Many airlines are offering the same flexibility to passengers who suspect that they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as well as members of the same traveling party, particularly when they are members of the same household.

If testing is mandated on arrival and a passenger tests positive, then the passenger should be treated according to the requirements of the receiving state. Airlines should not be required to repatriate the passenger(s) or "punished" with financial penalties such as fines or through operational penalties such as the withdrawal of the right to operate in the market.

© Asia Travel Tips

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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There are so many unanswered holes in the test-to-travel concept...

What happens when someone tests positive on arrival (as currently happens with about 5 to 15 foreigners per day currently entering Japan right now)? Who pays for this person's treatment and quarentine? What if they can't afford it, especially if it become severe illness? Is the whole plane also quarentined? Is the plane properly dis-infected?

How about the crew and airport staff? Are they routinely tested? How often?

What if someone tests positive on their return trip home, before exiting the country? Do they get assured treatment in the visited country? Who pays for that? What if the traveler can't afford it? What if they have a travel partner? Or a child? Or are part of a larger group? Are people split up?

Seems like insurance for such scenarios will eventually be required by most countries, and airlines/airports will need to charge more as well. Goodbye cheap flights.

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divindaToday  07:21 am JST

There are so many unanswered holes in the test-to-travel concept...

What happens when someone tests positive on arrival (as currently happens with about 5 to 15 foreigners per day currently entering Japan right now)?

Where did you get that info? The Japanese border is basically closed to foreigners, even to those of us who live here and have family.

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The govts should cough up.Dubai will re-open to tourists from July 7 and you have to provide a Covid-19 clear certificate or submit to a test at the airport.Seems fair enough.

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Where should COVID-19 tests fit into travel process

The 10 min test just before boarding.

and who pays?

The customer.

That's the ticket.

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I'm keen to travel and happy to pay to be tested, but who knows how long it will be until borders are open again.

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Where did you get that info? The Japanese border is basically closed to foreigners, even to those of us who live here and have family.

@Kniknaknokkaer - From NHK news. They announce daily how many foreign entrants at the open airports (Haneda, Narita, and Kansai) test positive for the coronavirus on arrival. They apparently test everyone at the airport (I have no idea how long it takes, or if they are even quarentined during the process). Every day there are more. Yesterday it was announce 7 new arrival cases of non-Japanese from the US, UAE, and Boliva. Last week there were a couple dozen positive cases at airports of people from places like Pakistan, Peru, Brazil, etc (not to mention the hundreds of foreigners who entered that tested negative)

See yesterday's news yourself (in Japanese)

So as far as your belief that the "border is basically closed to foreigners", you are incorrect, and many people on here continually spread that mis-information. Non-citzen permanent residents and non-citizen family of Japanese or PRs from ANYWHERE can currently come into Japan, even from the 110 banned countries, and definately from the 80+ non-banned countries. A denial of entry "may" only apply if these people departed from Japan into one of those banned countries after that specific country's quarentine for normal travel was imposed by Japan (mainly in April or May).

Stop believing the fake news and learn the facts

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Thanks. That NHK link does not state foreigners, it talks about arrivals which includes returning Japanese.

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That NHK link does not state foreigners, it talks about arrivals which includes returning Japanese.

Yeah, they've been getting more vague on who's who.

But last week they broke it down more clearly:

June 15, translated: *"it was newly confirmed that 12 men and women arriving at Narita Airport and Kansai Airport from 13th to 14th were infected with the new coronavirus at the airport quarantine station.By country of stay, Pakistan is 10, Indonesia is 1, Netherlands and Russia are 1, and the nationalities are 5 Japanese and 7 foreign nationals."*

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I live in France and I have booked my plane tickets and all my hotels to spend August in Japan (booking in October 2019). I look every day if there is a possibility for me to leave, I start to despair... 

But I find that the idea of doing PCR tests on entry and exit are good things. After, as @divinda says, there are still unanswered questions and unfortunately more and more cases... 

I just hope that everything will go back to normal...

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For International Travel: All Points of Departure & Entry. If a "Positive " test is found at departure point then travel is denied. The test is then repeated at Arrival Points.

The costs are added to a ticket price or Travel Insurance.

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@Raphael - Sorry, but the chances of you, as a tourist from France, being allowed to enter Japan in August are pretty much zero.

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I want to go Ondonesia,, Should I bring PCR test results to Narita Airport?

or I can test in Indonesia airport,,??

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i am a japanesse wife but right now i am here in the philippines ang back to japan at october next month,do i need to a rapid test before entering japan?

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