January27 , 2022

WHO Warns Against “Blanket” Omicron Travel Bans As Nations Shut Borders

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WHO warned the bans might in the end dissuade nations from sharing knowledge concerning the evolving virus.

Geneva, Switzerland:

The World Health Organization has warned blanket journey bans is not going to forestall 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.

In the week for the reason that new virus pressure was reported by South Africa, dozens of nations around the globe have responded with journey restrictions — most concentrating on southern African nations.

But the World Health Organization 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 in the end dissuade nations from sharing knowledge concerning the evolving virus.

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

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned it was comprehensible for nations to hunt to guard their residents “against a variant we don’t yet fully understand”.

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

The possible 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 new variant — whose excessive variety of mutations the WHO believes could 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.

So far, 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, someday after it barred all overseas arrivals.

However, 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. 

Asked how lengthy journey restrictions that took impact Monday on South Africa and 7 different southern African nations would stay, Biden mentioned it “kind of depends”.

“We’re going to learn a lot more in the next couple weeks about the lethality of this virus, about how much it spreads, what we have to control it, etcetera,” he informed reporters.

Asked if any growth of the journey restrictions to different nations may very well be made instantly, as occurred underneath former president Donald Trump, Biden mentioned: “Unlike Trump I don’t shock our allies.”

In Asia, governments continued Wednesday to increase restrictions, together with with Indonesia including Hong Kong to its journey ban listing alongside varied 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?

While 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 battle towards Covid-19 is much 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 comprise rising an infection numbers and stop well being companies from being overwhelmed.

Governments, significantly in Western Europe, have already reintroduced obligatory 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 supply 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.

While 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.

Traditional 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 govt Andre Viljoen mentioned it was a “momentous” event, the place tourism accounts for about 40 % of the economic system.

“The international border reopening will reignite Fiji’s economy,” he informed reporters.

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

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