WHO Recommends Lifting COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Over Inefficiency, Economic Harm

© REUTERS / Toby MelvilleA public health campaign message is displayed on an arrivals information board at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, July 29, 2020
A public health campaign message is displayed on an arrivals information board at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, July 29, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2022
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged nations around the world 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 13 January, the WHO Emergency Committee on International Health Regulations met via video conference to evaluate the latest developments in the pandemic situation across the world amid the spread of the Omicron strain and revisit the COVID-19 response measures.
"The Committee identified the following actions as critical for all countries: ... 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," a statement released by the WHO on Wednesday read.
The committee also noted that 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."
"[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, further requesting states to uphold research "to derive the optimal vaccination strategy for reducing infection, morbidity and mortality."
As of now, the WHO has approved 10 COVID-19 vaccines, including Covovax, Moderna, Comirnaty, Janssen, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Sinovac, and Sinopharm, with 10 more vaccines undergoing the review process, including Russia's Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona.
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