New Delhi, July 31, 2020:
The use of “immunity certificates” for international travel in the context of COVID-19 is not currently supported by scientific evidence and therefore not recommended by WHO. More evidence is needed to understand the effectiveness of rapid SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests. For more information, please refer to WHO scientific brief “Immunity passports” in the context of COVID-19, which will be updated as new evidence becomes available. Beyond the scientific considerations, there are ethical, legal and human rights aspects related to privacy of personal data, medical confidentiality, potential risk of falsification or engagement in risky behaviour, stigma and discrimination.
Whether screening is conducted depends on the country policies and its risk benefit analysis.
Exit and entry screening includes measures like temperature checking and checking for signs and symptoms (fever above 38°C, cough). You may be asked to complete a form informing health authorities about your possible exposure to cases within the last two weeks (contact with patients among health care workers, visits to hospitals, sharing accommodation with a person sick with COVID-19, etc.). Symptomatic travellers and identified contacts will be asked to have a medical examination and be tested for COVID- 19. You should not be charged for these protective measures, including any required isolation and quarantine.
Digital apps are now available in some countries to identify and inform travellers who may have been in contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 or had a positive test for COVID-19. They are effective only if a large proportion of the general population uses the app. International travellers may have issues of compatibility and data sharing when crossing borders. Those considering an app are advised to review the legal and ethical aspects related to individual privacy and personal data protection.
Laboratory PCR testing (molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2) immediately prior to departure or on arrival may provide information about the status of travellers. However, laboratory results should be interpreted with caution, since a small proportion of false negative and false positive results may occur. If conducted, testing should be accompanied by a comprehensive COVID-19 follow up, for example, by advising departing travellers who have been tested to report any symptoms to local public health authorities. If the testing is conducted on arrival, all travellers should be provided with an emergency phone number in case symptoms develop. A relevant case management protocol should be followed in case of a positive test.
If you have any symptoms or have had contact with people who have COVID-19, you may be asked to get an exam and be tested for COVID-19. Even if you don’t test positive, you should be provided with an emergency phone number to call in case symptoms develop later.
You should not be charged by the country for:
- examinations to determine your health status
- required vaccinations or protective equipment on arrival (if these were not published at least 10 days earlier)
- appropriate isolation or quarantine facilities
- required certificates at the point of entry that document measures applied
- any baggage accompanying you
Travellers should self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days after arrival. Report any symptoms and your travel history to local health facilities and follow national protocols. If you are confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be placed in isolation in a health facility or in self-isolation at home, depending on the country’s policies, and asked to provide a list of your contacts in the last 14 days. Your contacts will be placed under quarantine.
If you become ill during your travel, inform your travel attendant (plane, ship, train, etc.). You may be moved to a seat farther away from others.
Ask for information on how to be seen by a health care provider and seek care immediately.
Wear a mask continuously while you travel, frequently clean your hands with hand sanitizer, cover a cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue, and maintain at least a 1 metre distance from others wherever possible. You should stop travelling as soon as feasible.
If you are told you must quarantine or self-isolate yourself in a specific place, you should be provided with free, appropriate facilities and care, and not be asked to stay longer than 14 days.