The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the globe to not impose flight bans on southern African nations as a result of issues over the brand new omicron variant.

WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, referred to as on countries to comply with science and worldwide well being rules as a way to keep away from utilizing travel restrictions.

“Travel restrictions might play a job in barely lowering the unfold of COVID-19 however place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti mentioned in a press release. “If restrictions are applied, they shouldn’t be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and ought to be scientifically based mostly, in line with the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of worldwide regulation acknowledged by over 190 nations.”

Moeti praised South Africa for following worldwide well being rules and informing WHO as quickly as its nationwide laboratory recognized the omicron variant.

“The pace and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the brand new variant is to be recommended,“ mentioned Moeti. “WHO stands with African countries which had the braveness to boldly share life-saving public well being data, serving to shield the world towards the unfold of COVID-19.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to as the restrictions “fully unjustified.“

“The prohibition of travel will not be knowledgeable by science, nor will or not it’s efficient in stopping the unfold of this variant,” mentioned in a speech Sunday night. “The solely factor the prohibition on travel will do is to additional harm the economies of the affected countries, and undermine the flexibility to reply to, and likewise to recuperate from, the pandemic.”

Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on reverse sides of the world Sunday and lots of governments rushed to shut their borders at the same time as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the brand new variant is extra alarming than different variations of the virus.

While investigations proceed into the omicron variant, WHO recommends that each one countries “take a risk-based and scientific method and put in place measures which might restrict its attainable unfold.”

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health within the United States, emphasised that there isn’t any knowledge but that implies the brand new variant causes extra severe sickness than earlier COVID-19 variants.

“I do suppose it’s extra contagious, once you have a look at how quickly it unfold by way of a number of districts in South Africa,” Collins mentioned on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Israel determined to bar entry to foreigners, and Morocco mentioned it will droop all incoming flights for 2 weeks beginning Monday _ among the many most drastic of a rising raft of travel curbs being imposed as nations scrambled to gradual the variant’s unfold. Scientists in a number of locations _ from Hong Kong to Europe _ have confirmed its presence. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron circumstances on Sunday, and Australia discovered two.

The U.S. plans to ban travel from South Africa and 7 different southern African countries beginning Monday.

“With the omicron variant now detected in a number of areas of the world, putting in travel bans that focus on Africa assaults world solidarity,“ mentioned Moeti. “COVID-19 continually exploits our divisions. We will solely get the higher of the virus if we work collectively for options.”

WHO mentioned it scaling up its help for genomic sequencing in Africa so sequencing laboratories have entry to satisfactory human sources and testing reagents to work at full capability. WHO additionally mentioned is able to provide extra assist, reinforcing COVID-19 responses together with surveillance, remedy, an infection prevention and group engagement in southern African countries, it mentioned.



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