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WHO Recommends Lifting COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged nations to lift or ease COVID-19 travel restrictions, saying they have proven to be of little public health value but detrimental for economic growth.

On January 13, the WHO Emergency Committee on International Health Regulations met via video conference to evaluate the latest developments in the pandemic situation across the world.

This is amid the spread of Omicron strain as the meeting also sought to revisit the COVID-19 response measures.

A statement released by WHO read“ the committee identified the following actions as critical for all countries; lift or ease international traffic bans.

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“They do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by states parties.’’

The committee also said the failure of travel restrictions to restrain the cross-border spread of Omicron has proven their inefficacy.

“Countries should rely on evidence-informed risk assessment when choosing to introduce travel requirements, namely masking, testing, vaccination, and quarantine, and avoid placing the financial burden on international travelers.’’

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“The WHO advised for international traffic to not require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement said.

The WHO also urged states to recognise all vaccines that have received WHO authorisation, particularly in the context of international travel.

The Agency further requested states to uphold research “to derive the optimal vaccination strategy for reducing infection, morbidity, and mortality.”

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As of now, the WHO has approved 10 COVID-19 vaccines, including Covovax, Moderna, Comirnaty, Janssen, Astrazeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.

Meanwhile, 10 more vaccines are undergoing a review process, including Russia’s Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona. 

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