WHO warns against blanket travel bans as Omicron variant spreads

Nov 30 2021, 7:17 pm

As a number of countries ban travel from areas where the Omicron variant is spreading, the World Health Organization is warning against them.

In new guidance released on November 30, the WHO says blanket travel bans will not prevent international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. 

The organization says countries should continue applying an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures. Adding blanket bans “can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivizing 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 VOC.”

Since November 28, more than 50 countries have reportedly implemented travel measures to potentially delay the importation of the new variant.

The WHO believes the Omicron variant will be detected in an increasing number of countries as national authorities step up their surveillance.

It is closely monitoring the spread and says studies are ongoing to understand more about these mutations and their impact on transmissibility, virulence, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Ministers and Government of Canada officials will hold a news conference to provide an update on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and measures to address the Omicron variant Tuesday afternoon.

Several cases have already been detected in Ontario.

Earlier today, Hong Kong announced a travel ban on non-residents coming from Canada beginning Thursday, December 2.

Amanda WawrykAmanda Wawryk

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