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WHO Urges Nations To Lift Travel Bans & Not Mandate 'proof Of Vaccination' For Entry

The World Health Organisation (WHO), has batted against international travel bans and mandatory vaccination for entry into countries, amid Omicron rise



As Omicron cases across the world continue to rise, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has batted against international travel bans and mandatory vaccination for entry into countries. The WHO's International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee issued these recommendations after its tenth meeting on COVID-19 held on Wednesday. As of date, the world has seen 33.4 crore COVID cases till date and 55.5 lakh deaths.

WHO bats against international travel bans

In its recommendation, WHO urges its member nations to lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress on the nations. "The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit the international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time. Travel measures (e.g. masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination) should be based on risk assessments," stated WHO in a statement.

Moreover, the international organisation also urged nations to not require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel. It stated that inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission were the reasons behind its stance. It also stated that preferential vaccination of travellers could result in inadequate supplies of vaccines for priority populations considered at high risk.

Other recommendations include:

  • Continue to use evidence-informed public health and social measures, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines for COVID-19
  • Take a risk-based approach to mass gathering events
  • Achieve the WHO call to action to have at least 70% of all countries’ populations vaccinated by the start of July 2022
  • Enhance surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and continue to report to WHO
  • Ensure surge capacity for critical SARS-CoV-2 clinical care and post COVID-19 condition
  • Recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing
  • Conduct epidemiological investigations of SARS-CoV-2 transmission at the human-animal interface

WHO's statement comes a day after India extended its suspension of scheduled international passenger flights until February 28. This restriction, however, will not apply to international all-cargo operations or flights approved by DGCA. Flights that are part of an air-bubble setup will also be unaffected. India has a bilateral bubble arrangement with 28 countries including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Moreover, WHO's stance on 'not mandating' vaccination for international travel comes amid the deportation of Tennis champion Novak Djokovic from Australia along with a 3-year ban. The reigning Australian Open champion had sought a medical exemption to participate in the Grand slam competition after admitting that he was unvaccinated, violating Australia's COVID restrictions. Most nations including the United States have mandated vaccination by vaccines recognized by it to allow people to enter their country. India, however, has no such rule, as of date.  

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