Amid the spread of new COVID strain ‘Omicron’, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Saturday postponed the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), that was set to take place in Geneva.
The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was set to take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland, the official website of the World Trade Organisation informed. This Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on Friday.
*ANNOUNCEMENT* The imminent Ministerial Conference is postponed after an outbreak of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many ministers from reaching Geneva.
— WTO (@wto) November 26, 2021
“@wto #MC12 has been postponed. The full membership is behind the decision of the General Council Chair @CastilloDacio and DG @NOIweala. Health, fairness and inclusiveness informed the call. It is the right decision. Work will and must continue,” WTO deputy DG Anabel Gonzalez said in a tweet.
@wto #MC12 has been postponed. The full membership is behind the decision of the General Council Chair @CastilloDacio and DG @NOIweala. Health, fairness and inclusiveness informed the call. It is the right decision. Work will and must continue. pic.twitter.com/jVyKThJbXb
— Anabel Gonzalez (@_AnabelG) November 26, 2021
During the meeting, ministers from across the world were set to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system, to deliver prepared statements and to take action on the future work of the WTO, the official website said.
Meanwhile, as precautionary measures to contact the spread of the new variant, India on Friday added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing for infection.
The US along with European Union and other major destinations also moved to block flights from several African countries, CNN reported.
The US has ordered additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29, President Joe Biden said.
“I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29,” Biden said.
Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are among countries that took steps in restricting flights from southern Africa.
The UK announced it would be temporarily suspending flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Japan has tightened border controls for travellers from the same six countries, bringing in a 10-day quarantine beginning 12 a.m. on Nov. 27.
Fellow EU nations Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Malta have all announced imminent entry bans to all travellers who’ve entered South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini in the past two weeks. Switzerland has banned all direct flights from the same seven countries as well, CNN reported.
Besides these countries, Egypt, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have also announced restrictions on the seven countries.