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WHO Recommends Countries Lift International Travel Bans; Proof of COVID-19 Inoculation NOT Required


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The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted its tenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the COVID-19 “pandemic” on January 13, 2022.

Members and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference, and they released a list of recommendations critical for all countries.

On Wednesday, January 19th, the WHO published their recommended actions.

While the mainstream media will likely bury this information, the global health agency made two recommendations that stood out.

Lift or ease international travel bans

-Do NOT require proof of COVID-19 inoculation for international travel

NewsBytes reported:

Several countries had imposed travel bans to and from Southern Africa when the Omicron strain emerged in November last year.

However, the WHO has time and again voiced its disapproval of such travel bans, saying it may discourage countries from reporting emerging variants.

It further said COVID-19 vaccination should not be made the only condition for travelers’ entry due to inequitable distribution of vaccines.

As stated by the WHO:

Lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by States Parties. The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit 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 and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR.

Do 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. State Parties should consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, when appropriate, in accordance with the WHO guidance.

Other recommendations for all countries include (some particularly concerning):

  • Continue to use evidence-informed public health and social measures, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines for COVID-19, and to share response experiences with WHO.
  • Take a risk-based approach to mass gathering events by evaluating, mitigating, and communicating risks.
  • Achieve the WHO call to action to have at least 70% of all countries’ populations vaccinated by the start of July 2022 and integrate COVID-19 vaccination into routine health services.
  • Enhance surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and continue to report to WHO to enable rapid identification, tracking, and evaluation of variants and continued monitoring of the pandemic’s evolution and its control. 
  • States Parties should ensure that there is sufficient surge capacity for critical SARS-CoV-2 clinical care and post COVID-19 condition, and for the maintenance of essential health services, and should plan for the restoration of health services at all levels with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources.
  • Recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing and all heterologous vaccine combinations as per SAGE recommendations
  • Address community engagement and communications gaps and challenges posed by infodemics at national and local levels to reduce COVID-19 transmission, counter misinformation and threats to frontline workers, and improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, where applicable.
  • Support timely uptake and monitoring of WHO recommended therapeutics 
  • Conduct epidemiological investigations of SARS-CoV-2 transmission at the human-animal interface and targeted surveillance on potential animal hosts and reservoirs. 


 

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