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

International travel ban amid Omicron 'ineffective': WHO to member countries

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

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

WHO urged its member nations to “lift or ease” international travel bans, adding that, “Travel measures (e.g. masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination) should be based on risk assessments.” 

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

WHO said countries should consider adjusting measures, including testing and quarantine requirements, “when appropriate” that put travellers under financial burden.

WHO’s statement comes within days after India extended its suspension of scheduled international passenger flights until February 28. The restriction will, however, not be applicable to international all-cargo operations or flights approved by DGCA. 

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

first published:Jan. 20, 2022, 9:01 p.m.

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