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‘They are ineffective’ — WHO asks countries to lift COVID-19 travel bans

‘They are ineffective’ — WHO asks countries to lift COVID-19 travel bans
January 20
14:53 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked nations to lift or ease COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The global health body said the restrictions are detrimental to economic growth and have proven to have little public health value.

On January 13, the WHO emergency committee on international health regulations met to evaluate the latest developments in the pandemic situation across the world.

The meeting also sought to revisit the COVID-19 response measures.

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According to the statement released by WHO on Wednesday, “the committee identified the following actions as critical for all countries; lift or ease international traffic bans”.

“They do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by states parties,” the statement reads.

“The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.

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“Countries should rely on evidence-informed risk assessment when choosing to introduce travel requirements, namely masking, testing, vaccination, and quarantine, and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers.”

The WHO said due to the limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, proof of vaccination requirement for international travel should not be the “only pathway or condition permitting international travel”.

It urged countries to recognise all vaccines that have received WHO authorisation, particularly in the context of international travel.

“State Parties should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, when appropriate, in accordance with the WHO guidance,” the statement reads.

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“Recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing and all heterologous vaccine combinations as per SAGE recommendations, including in the context of international travel. 

“States Parties are also requested to support research to derive the optimal vaccination strategy for reducing infection, morbidity and mortality.”

At present, the WHO has approved 10 COVID-19 vaccines, including Covovax, Moderna, Comirnaty, Janssen, Astrazeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Sinovac and Sinopharm.

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