The World Health Organization has criticized blanket travel bans following the emergence of the Omicron variant, suggesting they “attack global solidarity” and “will not prevent the international spread.”
The World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti said, “Covid-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”
“Blanket bans place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods” he added in response to a huge wave of global travel restrictions in the previous 7 days.
He also suggested, “the speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended,”
The World Health Organization stated, “WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of Covid-19.”
Officials in at least 24 countries have detected the Omicron variant since last week, including the U.S, U.K, and Australia.
New Travel Restrictions
Following the emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa, many nations added a blanket ban on travel from various African Nations.
In addition, countries are now adding more stringent entry requirements on all nations as scientists try to understand whether Omicron is a weaker or more dangerous strain of COVID-19.
The United States banned travel from eight African nations, including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
The EU banned travel from Southern Africa last week straight after the World Health Organization labeled Omicron a variant of concern. European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, demanded an emergency brake on all air travel from the region.
The United Kingdom added South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe to their red list. As a result, only British citizens from these nations can enter the U.K and they must undergo an expensive 10-night quarantine period in a government hotel.
However, the following nations have introduced a blanket travel ban on all foreign arrivals:
Additionally, all travelers from third countries must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before entering France. Ireland has implemented mandatory testing for all arrivals. Spain has banned unvaccinated travelers from multiple countries—including the U.K.
France will also require EU citizens to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test at least 24 hours before arriving in France.
IATA Condemns Travel Bans
In addition to the World Health Organization, the IATA has slammed the travel bans as a threat to the travel industry’s recovery. The travel bans imposed by governments will leave the tourism industry lagging behind, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA.)
A report on the recovery of air travel from October 2021 suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly harmed air travel. According to one report, the demand for air travel was down by almost 50% since October 2019.
The IATA suggested the demand within domestic markets—including nations with zero-COVID policies—has dropped by 21.6% since 2019.
Willie Walsh, the head of the IATA, said, “Unfortunately, government responses to the emergence of the Omicron variant are putting at risk the global connectivity it has taken so long to rebuild,” he said.
Following the emergence of the Omicron variant and ongoing travel restrictions, airlines such as Ryanair are focusing on next summer instead. The company has witnessed travel demand significantly decrease over winter since the emergence of Omicron.
”We were hoping the demand curve would really get going in January of this year once we got through the Christmas period, but now that’s been T-boned by the travel restrictions. But we are still optimistic about next summer.” said Eddie Wilson, the CEO of Ryanair.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com