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Omicron variant: WHO criticizes travel ban

JOHANNESBURG – The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose a flight ban on South African countries due to concerns about the new omicron variant.

WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has called on countries to comply with international medical and scientific regulations to avoid the use of travel restrictions.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 but impose a burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement. “If restrictions are in place, they must not be intrusive or unnecessarily intrusive, and must be based on science that, under the International Health Regulations, is a legally binding instrument of law.” internationally recognized by more than 190 countries.

Moeti praised South Africa for complying with international health regulations and notified WHO as soon as their national laboratory identified the omicron variant.

“The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world about the new variant,” said Mr. Moeti. “WHO stands with African countries that have courageously shared public health information to save lives, help protect the world against the spread of COVID-19.”

Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus emerged in countries facing the world on Sunday, and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists warned that it was not clear whether the variant Is the new virus more alarming than other versions of the virus?

While investigations continue into the omicron variation, WHO recommends that all countries “take a risk- and science-based approach and adopt measures that can limit the likelihood of transmission.” its orchid.”

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, stressed that there is currently no data to show that the new variant causes more severe illness than previous COVID-19 variants.

“I think it’s more contagious, when you look at how quickly it’s spread through many counties in South Africa,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Israel decided to ban entry for foreigners and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming flights for two weeks starting Monday – in one of the most drastic actions of the growing restrictions. Travel is imposed as countries scramble to slow the spread of the variant. Scientists in several places – from Hong Kong to Europe – have confirmed its presence. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron cases on Sunday, and Australia found two.

The US plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other South African countries starting Monday.

“With the omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, the imposition of a travel ban targeting Africa would attack global solidarity,” said Moeti. “COVID-19 is constantly exploiting our parts. We will only improve the virus if we work together to find solutions.”

WHO says it is expanding support for genome sequencing in Africa so that sequencing laboratories have access to adequate human resources and experimental reagents to operate at full capacity. WHO also said it stands ready to provide more help, strengthening the COVID-19 response including surveillance, treatment, infection prevention and community participation in South African countries.

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