Lift international travel bans; proof of vaccination not needed: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday recommended lifting or relaxation of international travel bans, citing their ineffectiveness in controlling the spread of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. The health body issued the statement after concluding an emergency meeting. It further appealed to countries to not mandate proof of COVID-19 vaccination as the only condition for the entry of travelers.
- Several countries had imposed travel bans to and from Southern Africa when the Omicron strain emerged in November last year.
- However, the WHO has time and again voiced its disapproval of such travel bans, saying it may discourage countries from reporting emerging variants.
- It further said COVID-19 vaccination should not be made the only condition for travelers' entry due to inequitable distribution of vaccines.
The WHO said the failure of travel bans "demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time." In fact, it "may discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging variants of concerns," the health agency added. It has advised countries to instead consider measures such as masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination, based on the travelers' risk assessment.
Additionally, the WHO said daily COVID-19 cases around the globe jumped by 20% last week to touch 18 million (1.8 crore). The number of infections rose in all global regions except for Africa, according to the agency.
Meanwhile, in India, more than 3,17,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported over the past 24 hours. The daily positivity rate stood at 16.41% and the weekly positivity rate at 16.06%. The country's tally of infections involving the Omicron variant has reached 9,287. Under India's COVID-19 vaccination drive, more than 159.6 crore doses have been administered so far.