Ana Karina E. de Souza, Fabio Komatsu Falkenburger, Carolina de Souza Tuon and Luisa Andrade Costa e Silva Rodrigues

On August 11, the Anvisa board (National Health Surveillance Agency) unanimously approved the opening of public consultation on a proposed resolution that will regulate the new health security protocol in aircraft and airports in Brazil, with the aim of strengthening the fight against Covid-19. Public Consultation No. 894/20 will be open to receive contributions between August 26 and September 9, 2020.

The debate on this issue, which was already provided for in the 2017-2020 regulatory agenda, had its urgency accentuated with the declaration of a global public health emergency, which led to the need to improve health control methods at ports, airports, and borders.

Even though it has already presented measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in Brazil, such as divulging general guidelines for entry into the country through airports, assigning health inspection teams, and maintaining medical stations to detect suspicious cases, the federal government had to strengthen existing public health measures and establish others.

This was the objective of Law No. 13,979, published on February 6, 2020, to provide for actions that authorities may take to address the health emergency. In order to protect the public, subsection VI of article 3 of the law also authorizes Anvisa to adopt exceptional and temporary restrictions on entry and exit from Brazil via highways, ports, and airports to deal with the health crisis.

Interministerial Ordinance No. 1, published on July 29 with the participation of the Office of the President of Brazil, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Health, regulated exceptional and temporary restriction on the entry of foreigners into Brazil indicated above via land and water transportation, but did not prevent the entry of persons of any nationality by air. Therefore, foreigners can still enter Brazil through airports, as long as they meet the migration requirements. For stays of up to 90 days, it is also necessary to prove before boarding the acquisition of health insurance valid in Brazil for the entire duration of the trip. Otherwise, entry may be prevented by the migration authority, prompted by the health authority.

On May 19, Anvisa also published Technical Note No. 101/20 to update the health measures to be adopted in airports and aircraft with recommendations to combat SARS-CoV-2, including limiting the capacity of bus rental to travel between terminals, organizing the movement of people in terminals, suspending on-board services on domestic flights, and following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

To date, there is no regulation by Anvisa giving airport health inspectors the option of requiring conduct  from passengers, commercial facilities, or persons responsible for means of transport to control the spread of Covid-19.

The establishment of Public Consultation No. 894/20 seeks precisely to support the actions of these inspectors and contemplate the recommendations established by the WHO with more efficiency, reinforcing measures to combat the pandemic, such as the use of masks, adoption of social distancing, hand hygiene, among others.

Following the technical guidance of epidemiological surveillance and the Ministry of Health, the proposal aims to implement health measures in airports and aircraft after analyzing comments and suggestions from the general public and, especially, from actors directly impacted, such as airport terminal managers, transport operators, service providers, and companies operating in airports.

The text of the public consultation with the draft resolution was released by Anvisa and reiterates all the measures adopted so far. They should be adopted by all travellers, airport terminals, airlines, service providers, and companies in operation. The text also provides for denial of boarding to travellers who have a diagnosis or symptoms of Covid-19.