In light of the developments surrounding new variant Omicron in recent weeks, the World Health Organization has updated their travel and health guidance.
On November 30, the WHO released an official advisory to persons 60 and older, unvaccinated travelers and those with certain health conditions to put their upcoming travel plans on hold for now.
The organization later added to their statement, saying that, “Persons who are unwell, or who have not been fully vaccinated or do not have proof of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and are at increased risk of developing severe disease and dying, including people 60 years of age or older or those with comorbidities that present increased risk of severe COVID-19 (e.g. heart disease, cancer and diabetes) should be advised to postpone travel to areas with community transmission.”
WHO Advises Against Any Outright Travel Bans
While the organization is advising some individuals against travel at this time, they are not recommending an outright travel ban. Their reasoning is that they place a heavy burden on livelihoods.
“Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivizing countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data,” WHO officials said in a statement.
United States To Update Its Entry Guidelines This Week
On Tuesday, White House officials announced that the U.S. will be tightening some of their international travel restrictions in the coming days. The restrictions may include updating the pre-departure testing requirement from 3 days before travel to just 1 day.
A number of countries across the globe have already tightened their entry restrictions following the news of the new variant and its spread, including the UK, Australia, Argentina, and many EU member states.
You can read more informaton here n our most recent article on 21 countries that have enacted new travel restrictions due to the new variant.
Transmissibility Of New Variant Still Unknown, S.African Doctor Says
More cases of the omicron variant have been detected this week, from Australia, to Canada, Spain and most recently, California. When more data from local Covid cases across the globe come in, researchers will be able to conclude if this variant is more, or less, harmful than previous mutations.
It was recently reported by Reuters that a South African doctor, who was one of the first professionals to discover this new virus variant, noticed that patients had some different symptoms compared to the Delta variant, and many individuals were able to be treated at home.
“Most of them are seeing very, very mild symptoms and none of them so far have admitted patients to surgeries. We have been able to treat these patients conservatively at home,” Dr. Coetzee said.
The article also notes that patients have not yet reported a loss of taste or smell, which is unique compared to other strains of the virus.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories