COVID-19 travel restrictions and the International Health Regulations – Call for an open debate on easing of travel restrictions

Petersen, Eskild ; McCloskey, Brian ; Hui, David S. ; Kock, Richard ; Ntoumi, Francine ; Memish, Ziad A. ; Kapata, Nathan ; Azhar, Esam I. ; Pollack, Marjorie ; Madoff, Larry C. ; Hamer, Davidson H. ; Nachega, Jean B. ; Pshenichnaya, N. ; Zumla, Alimuddin (2020-05-01)

CITATION: Petersen, E. et al. 2020. COVID-19 travel restrictions and the International Health Regulations - Call for an open debate on easing of travel restrictions. International journal of infectious diseases, 94:88–90. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.04.029

The original publication is available at https://www.journals.elsevier.com/international-journal-of-infectious-diseases

Article

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has made national governments worldwide to mandate several generic infection control measures such as physical distancing, self-isolation, and closure of non-essential shops, restaurants schools, among others. Some models suggest physical distancing would have to persist for 3 months to mitigate the peak effects on health systems and could be required on an intermittent basis for 12 to 18 months ( Flaxman et al., 2020 ). Apart from these control measures travel restrictions during the early phase of the China outbreak were useful to confine it to Wuhan, the major source of the outbreak ( Kraemer et al., 2020 ) although ultimately these measures did not prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other regions of China. The global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 has clearly been associated with regional and international travel which has contributed to the pandemic ( Candido et al., 2020 ). To limit cross-border spread, both regionally and globally, many countries have swiftly adopted sweeping measures, including full lockdowns of shops, companies, shutting down airports, imposing travel restrictions and completely sealing their borders, to contain transmission ( Gostin and Wiley, 2020 ). The grounding of international travel as part of the global response to prevent spread has caused profound disruption of travel and trade and has threatened the survival of many airlines, travel companies, and associated businesses.

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