WHO issues travel advisory to stem spread of Omicron variant

The WHO said while scientific research is underway to understand how the variant behaves, countries should continue to apply an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures in accordance with the IHR.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday issued travel advisory for countries to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and commended South Africa and Botswana for “the speed and transparency with which they notified and shared information on Omicron, allowing other countries to rapidly adjust their response.”   

The WHO said while scientific research is underway to understand how the variant behaves, countries should continue to apply an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures in accordance with the IHR.  

“National authorities may apply a multi-layered risk mitigation approach to potentially delay the exportation or importation of the new variant. 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 disincentivizing countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data,” the WHO wrote.

It added that “All travellers should remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, get vaccinated when it is their turn and adhere to public health and social measures at all times.”

As of November 28, 2021, 56 countries were reportedly implementing travel measures aimed at potentially delaying the importation of the new variant. 

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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