From Israel to Japan, dozens of countries have decided to impose travel bans after the emergence of the New COVID-19 variant Omicron.
However, many doctors and the WHO are of the opinion that travel bans may not be the best response to the latest development.
Not Yet Clear If Omicron Is More Transmissible Than Other COVID Variants: WHO
Amid concerns over the detectability and transmissibility of the new variant, Omicron, the World Health Organisation on Sunday said it is not yet clear whether the variant of concern is more transmissible as compared to other variants, including Delta.
.@WHO is working with scientists around the world to better understand key aspects of the Omicron variant and its impact on the key tools. Here is the information we have so far and what we still need to find out https://t.co/Q2pJzwlMdp
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 28, 2021
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 29, 2021
Travel Bans Are a Bad Idea: Dr Faheem Younus
Dr Faheem Younus, the chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland, says travel bans are a bad idea.
Why travel bans are a bad idea?
– Previously proven to be ineffective
– By the time bans are enacted, virus has already traveled
– Bans punish the good ppl (for their honesty)
– They disincentivize other nations to report a new variant
Remember, it’s not March 2020
— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) November 27, 2021
Vinod Scaria, principal scientist at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) tweets why travel bans are a bad idea.
Why are #TravelBans a bad idea ?
🔴 No evidence exists that they are effective
🔴 Viruses don’t respect National Boundaries
🔴 I most cases, the virus transmission would have already happened before the ban was imposed
🔴 Hurts countries who are faithfully reporting variants. pic.twitter.com/7g2X2POLCV
— Vinod Scaria (@vinodscaria) November 28, 2021
South African President Says Travel Restrictions ‘Scientifically Unjustified’
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on countries to “urgently” reverse “scientifically unjustified” travel restrictions linked to omicron.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said in his first address to the nation since the detection of Omicron.
WHO Criticizes Travel Bans On Southern African Countries
The World Health Organization has urged countries across the world not to impose travel bans on southern African countries due to the concerns over Omicron.
WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti called countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions. “@WHO stands with #African nations & calls for borders to remain open. As countries impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new #OmicronVariant, WHO urges countries to follow science & health regulations,” she said in a tweet.
The speed & transparency of the 🇿🇦& 🇧🇼 govts in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended.@WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of #COVID19. https://t.co/6nHhuHlvTG
— Dr Matshidiso Moeti (@MoetiTshidi) November 28, 2021
In a statement, WHO’s regional office for Africa said: “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”
“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations,” it added.
Fauci Defends Travel Ban
US president Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, defended these travel restrictions as he said that they were necessary and justified. Fauci said that the restrictions “will slow things down” and help the US be “better prepared” for it.
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