KUALA LUMPUR: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for governments to follow World Health Organisation (WHO) advice and immediately rescind travel bans that were introduced in response to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19.

In a statement today, IATA said public health organisations, including the WHO, have advised against travel curbs to contain the spread of Omicron.

IATA said WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the Omicron variant notes that states implementing measures such as screening or quarantine need to be defined following a thorough risk assessment process informed by the local epidemiology in departure and destination countries and by the health system and public health capacities in the countries of departure, transit and arrival.

"All measures should be commensurate with the risk, time-limited and applied with respect to travelers' dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as outlined in the International Health Regulations."

IATA director-general Willie Walsh said after nearly two years navigating COVID-19, the world knows a lot about the virus and the inability of travel restrictions to control its spread.

"But the discovery of the Omicron variant induced instant amnesia on governments which implemented knee-jerk restrictions in complete contravention of advice from the WHO," he said.

Urging governments to reconsider all Omicron measures, Walsh said the goal is to move away from the uncoordinated, evidence absent, risk-unassessed mess that travellers face.

"In line with the WHO advice, all measures should be time-bound and regularly reviewed. It is unacceptable that hasty decisions have created fear and uncertainty among travellers just as many are about to embark on year-end visits to family or hard-earned vacations," he said.