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WHO warns against blanket travel bans over Omicron coronavirus variant

WHO warns against blanket travel bans over Omicron coronavirus variant

Wednesday, December 01, 2021, 10:16 GMT+7
WHO warns against blanket travel bans over Omicron coronavirus variant
A notice about COVID-19 safety measures is pictured next to closed doors at a departure hall of Narita international airport on the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, November 30, 2021. Photo: Reuters

GENEVA -- Countries should apply "an evidence-informed and risk-based approach" with any travel measures related to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, including possible screening or quarantine of international passengers, but blanket bans do not prevent its spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The WHO, in its latest guidance to authorities and travellers, said that people over 60 years of age who are not fully vaccinated or do not have proof of previous SARS-COV-2 infection and those with underlying health conditions should be advised to postpone travel as they are at higher risk of disease and death.

First reported in southern Africa a week ago, the variant has brought global alarm, led to travel bans, and highlighted the disparity between massive vaccination pushes in rich nations and sparse inoculation in the developing world. 

National authorities in countries of departure, transit and arrival may apply a multi-layered approach to mitigate risk so as to delay or reduce importation or exportation of the Omicron variant, the WHO said on Tuesday.

"Measures may include screening of passengers prior to travel and/or upon arrival, and use of SARS-COV-2 testing or quarantine of international travellers after thorough risk assessment," it said.

All measures should be commensurate with the risk, time-limited and applied with respect to travellers' rights, it said.

"Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods," it said.

Some 56 countries were reportedly implementing travel measures aimed at potentially delaying import of Omicron as of Nov, 28, it added.

Reuters

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