The World Health Organisation says that blanket travel bans will not stop the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, warning that it will rather adversely impact global efforts in fighting the pandemic.
The global health agency stated this in its latest travel advisory released on Tuesday, noting that people over 60, and those with health conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes should instead delay travelling in this period.
WHO in the statement said, “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.
“In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivising countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.
“All countries should ensure that the measures are regularly reviewed and updated when new evidence becomes available on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Omicron or any other (variant of concern) VOC.”
The WHO also urged countries to implement measures that will help prevent the spread of the new variant.
“National authorities in countries of departure, transit and arrival may apply a multi-layered risk mitigation approach to potentially delay and/or reduce the exportation or importation of the new variant.
“Such measures may include the screening of passengers prior to travelling and/or upon arrival, including via the use of SARS-CoV-2 testing or the application of quarantine to international travellers. “These measures, nonetheless, need to be defined following a thorough risk assessment process informed by the local epidemiology in departure and destination countries and by the health system and public health capacities in the countries of departure, transit and arrival.
“All measures should be commensurate with the risk, time-limited and applied with respect to travellers’ dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as outlined in the IHR (2005),” WHO said.