International travel ban amid Omicron ‘ineffective’: WHO to member countries

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New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the ban on international travel “does not provide added value” and instead continues to contribute to the “economic and social stress” of nations. The UN health body’s statement comes at a time when several countries have once again suspended international flights due to the rise in COVID-19 and omicron cases.

In a statement, the WHO said the travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the highly mutant Omicron version of COVID demonstrated the “ineffectiveness of such measures over time”.

The WHO urged its member countries to “lift or reduce” international travel restrictions, adding that, “travel measures (such as masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination) should be based on risk assessments.”

The WHO also urged nations not to require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel, as the only route or condition allowing international travel.

The WHO said countries should consider adjustment measures, including testing and quarantine requirements, “when appropriate” that put travelers under a financial burden.

The WHO statement comes within days of India extending the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights till February 28. However, the ban will not apply to international all-cargo operations or flights approved by the DGCA.

As per reports, flights that are part of the air bubble will remain unaffected. India has a bilateral bubble arrangement with 28 countries. Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, United Kingdom and United States of America are the places of agreement with India.

First published:January 20, 2022, 9:01 pm

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