Blanket Travel Bans Won’t Prevent Omicron Spread, Says WHO Chief

Geneva: In view of several countries’ travel restrictions, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19.

Although WHO has labelled Omicron a “variant of concern”, it said on Tuesday that blanket travel bans will only put a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods, while also “disincentivizing countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.”

South Africa was the first to report the Omicron variant to the WHO last week. Since then, several countries and regions have reported Omicron cases. More than a dozen of countries have already tightened travel measures, and even suspended flights, reported news agency Xinhua.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Botswana and South Africa for detecting and reporting the variant so rapidly at a member states session on Tuesday. It is deeply worrying that these countries were being penalised by others for doing the right thing, The WHO chief said.

Ghebreyesus called the “blunt, blanket measures” introduced by some member states “not evidence-based or effective on their own.” He urged the nations to take “rational, proportional risk-reduction measures, in keeping with the international health regulations.”

ALSO READ: Omicron Alert: WHO Warns Of ‘Very High’ Risk; New Variant Already In 15 Nations

OB Bureau

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