Omicron Updates: WHO Advises not to Impose Blanket Travel Bans

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World Health Organization issued a warning on Tuesday (November 30) to countries not to impose blanket travel bans in response to the new Omicron coronavirus variety, as governments and scientists attempted to determine how effective current immunizations would be against the strain.

After the head of manufacturer Moderna warned existing COVID-19 vaccinations might be less effective against the Omicron version, financial markets plummeted, but they quickly recovered after further comforting comments from European officials.

BioNTech’s CEO seemed cautiously optimistic, suggesting that BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine will likely provide good protection against severe Omicron disease.

According to the WHO, blanket travel bans would not curb the spread of the new type but would impose a “severe burden” on people’s lives and livelihoods.

If evidence merited, it urged governments to take steps such as screening or quarantining overseas passengers.

People who are ill or at a higher risk of acquiring severe COVID-19, such as those aged 60 and up, should postpone travel, according to the WHO.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Secretary-General, said he recognized the worries regarding Omicron.

“I am equally worried that certain member states are implementing blunt, blanket policies that are neither evidence-based nor successful on their own, and which will further exacerbate imbalances,” he added.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), told the European Parliament that existing vaccines will continue to protect people.

The cases of Omicron so far confirmed in ten European Union nations, according to Andrea Ammon, chair of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), were mild or without symptoms, but in younger age groups.

After it was discovered in southern Africa and publicized on November 25, news of Omicron’s appearance wiped about US$2 trillion off world stocks on Friday.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times, “I think there is no planet where (effectiveness) is at the same level…as we had with Delta.”

Border closures have already hampered economic recovery, and as winter approaches, regions of Europe are experiencing the fourth wave of diseases.

To South Africa’s chagrin, many of the new travel restrictions have concentrated on restricting flights to and from southern Africa.

On Tuesday, Japan verified its first incidence of the novel type in a Namibian visitor. A person with Omicron had attended a large shopping district in Sydney while most likely infectious, according to Australia.

In reaction to the new variation, both the United Kingdom and the United States have pushed their booster programs. International entrants will be required to self-isolate until a PCR test yields a negative result, according to London.

The over-60s, who are thought to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19, will be required to get vaccinated, according to Greece.

On Monday, Australia postponed the reopening of its international crossings by two weeks, less than 36 hours before overseas students and skilled migrants were scheduled to return.

However, with new measures to halt transmission in Germany, a current hotspot of the previous important variety, Delta, the seven-day average infection rate declined somewhat for the first time in three weeks.

According to sources, chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz supports making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory and prohibiting the unvaccinated from non-essential stores.

Austria, which enforced its fourth full lockdown last week in response to an outbreak of illnesses, also saw a decrease.

France, on the other hand, experienced its highest daily infection rate since April.

Border frontline personnel who may come into contact with tourists from Omicron-affected areas are subjected to weekly PCR tests.

As part of its response to the Omicron strain, Singapore will improve COVID-19 testing processes for all travelers. Omicron was already spreading in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch health authority, where intensive care beds are running scarce and precautions such as restrictions on hospitality have yet to take effect.

The ban on southern African travelers has brought attention to the inequity in vaccination delivery, which may have given the virus greater opportunities to mutate.

On Tuesday, the passenger liner Europa docked in Cape Town, marking the formal start of the first cruise ship season in South Africa’s major tourist destination since the pandemic.

Many passengers were anticipated to fly home immediately once Omicron was detected while they were at sea.

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