WHO Warns Against Blanket Omicron Travel Bans As Nations Shut Borders

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WHO warned the bans might finally dissuade nations from sharing information concerning the evolving virus.

Geneva, Switzerland:

The World Well being Group has warned blanket journey bans is not going to stop the unfold of Omicron, as extra nations rushed to impose curbs and the primary instances of the brand new Covid pressure have been detected in Latin America.

Within the week because the new virus pressure was reported by South Africa, dozens of nations around the globe have responded with journey restrictions — most focusing on southern African nations.

However the World Well being Group warned Tuesday that “blanket” journey bans risked doing extra hurt than good, simply as Canada expanded its restrictions.

In a journey advisory, the WHO warned the bans might finally dissuade nations from sharing information concerning the evolving virus.

But it surely did advise that unvaccinated individuals susceptible to Covid-19, together with over-60s, ought to keep away from journey to areas with neighborhood transmission of the virus.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned it was comprehensible for nations to hunt to guard their residents “towards a variant we do not but absolutely perceive”.

However he referred to as for the worldwide response to be “calm, coordinated and coherent”, urging nations to “take rational, proportional risk-reduction measures”.

The probably futility of broad journey restrictions was underscored as Dutch authorities reported that Omicron was current within the nation earlier than South Africa formally reported its first instances on November 25.

The brand new variant — whose excessive variety of mutations the WHO believes might make it extra transmissible or immune to vaccines — was present in two Dutch take a look at samples from November 19 and 23, with one having no journey historical past.

Up to now, properly over a dozen nations and territories have detected instances, together with Australia, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy and Portugal.

Latin America reported its first two instances Tuesday — in individuals who travelled from South Africa to Brazil — and a primary case was confirmed in Japan, sooner or later after it barred all overseas arrivals.

Nevertheless, US President Joe Biden mentioned the journey bans on simply the southern African nations would keep in place, with out referencing the opposite locations the place Omicron has been detected. 

Requested how lengthy journey restrictions that took impact Monday on South Africa and 7 different southern African nations would stay, Biden mentioned it “type of relies upon”.

“We’ll study much more within the subsequent couple weeks concerning the lethality of this virus, about how a lot it spreads, what we now have to regulate it, etcetera,” he instructed reporters.

Requested if any growth of the journey restrictions to different nations could possibly be made all of the sudden, as occurred underneath former president Donald Trump, Biden mentioned: “In contrast to Trump I do not shock our allies.”

In Asia, governments continued Wednesday to broaden restrictions, together with with Indonesia including Hong Kong to its journey ban record alongside numerous African nations.

Hong Kong additionally added three extra nations – Japan, Portugal and Sweden — to its highest journey restriction class after Omicron instances have been found in these nations.

Vaccine-resistant?

Whereas a lot continues to be unknown concerning the Omicron variant — it might take weeks to find out whether or not and to what extent it’s vaccine-resistant — it has highlighted that the worldwide struggle towards Covid-19 is way from over.

Omicron has emerged as a lot of the northern hemisphere was already bracing for a brand new winter wave of the pandemic — leaving even nations with excessive vaccination charges struggling to include rising an infection numbers and stop well being providers from being overwhelmed.

Governments, notably in Western Europe, have already reintroduced necessary mask-wearing, social-distancing measures, curfews or lockdowns — leaving companies fearing one other grim Christmas.

Greece went forward Tuesday in making vaccines obligatory for over-60s, whereas Norway will provide booster pictures to all adults earlier than Easter, as preferable to a lockdown.

Britain has set a goal of delivering third jabs to all adults inside two months.

Whereas the European summer season of fleeting Covid freedoms could also be over, within the southern hemisphere, the Pacific island of Fiji ended 615 days of worldwide isolation on Wednesday and reopened to vacationers.

Conventional dancers in grass skirts welcomed waving holidaymakers from Sydney, the primary of an anticipated flood of desperately wanted vacationers within the coming weeks.

Fiji Airways chief government Andre Viljoen mentioned it was a “momentous” event, the place tourism accounts for about 40 % of the economic system.

“The worldwide border reopening will reignite Fiji’s economic system,” he instructed reporters.

(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)