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Updated: ICAO Issues Travel Advice for Stakeholders and Public Amid Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is continuing to assist in the coordination of the international response to the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak through the ICAO Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation, or ‘CAPSCA’ network of governments and international organizations.

ICAO is also directly transmitting Electronic Bulletins on the Coronavirus to its Member States, and these are also made available for public view on the CAPSCA website.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) now classifying the Coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and in light of the fact that civilian air transport is the most widely-used means of international travel, ICAO is strongly urging its Member States to monitor the WHO website for updated information and to adhere to the recommendations and guidance provided by the WHO.

ICAO is also calling on governments to comply with ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) concerning the preparedness and management of public health emergencies. These were detailed in ICAO’s first Electronic Bulletin dated 24 January.

States are also now being advised by ICAO to implement multi-sector communication and to collaborate with all their relevant stakeholders, at the national and international levels, to keep updated with recent developments in both the aviation and public health sectors.

On February 4, ICAO reminded national governments of their obligation under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to inform WHO of their public health rationales and justifications when implementing additional health measures that may significantly interfere with international traffic, within 48 hours of their implementation. ICAO supports WHO’s recommendation that countries do not impose restrictions inconsistent with IHR, and called for more rapid collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop the diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines needed to bring the outbreak under control.

“ICAO recognizes the urgent and important value of cooperation, coordination, and reliable information to help control the international spread of contagious outbreaks such as the Coronavirus,” underscored the UN aviation agency’s Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu.

“The CAPSCA network is designed for this purpose, and its information is made rapidly available to key global aviation, medical, and travel organizations, as well as being posted online for prompt and easy access by anyone in the world.”

In addition to the WHO and other public health response bodies such as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CAPSCA members also include critical organizations involved in the international movement of people and goods such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing scheduled commercial airlines, and the Airports Council International (ACI) for global airports.

ICAO and WHO outbreak advisories, in addition to separate health and travel advice from CAPSCA members such as the US CDC, IATA, ACI, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), are also made freely available to be consulted by any government, aviation company, or member of the general public directly from the Coronavirus area of the CAPSCA website

Find out more at CAPSCA

This story was updated on February 5 to reflect the latest update from ICAO.

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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