International travel restrictions should be eased or lifted, writes the World Health Organization (WHO) in a recent statement from the most recent Emergency Committee meeting.
During the meeting – the tenth since the beginning of the pandemic – the Committee discussed the efficacy of the current international travel restrictions and examined the possibility of terminating any travel bans. As evidence of the ineffectiveness of travel restrictions, the WHO casted a light on the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. According to the Organization, international travel restrictions are not effective in stopping the rise of the variant and should thus be lifted or eased.
Additionally, travel bans can “discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging Variants of Concern (VOC) in a transparent and timely manner,” and hence “they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress,” declared the WHO in its final statement.
In the last few months, showing proof of vaccination or a negative test result when entering a foreign country has become normal as countries reopened their borders. However, now the WHO writes that this requirement can possibly be substituted with other “travel measures” to control the spread of the virus.
The WHO also recommended adjusting travel measures (such as wearing a mask, testing, quarantine, and vaccination) depending on “risk assessments to avoid placing the financial burden on international travelers.” This risk-based approach will enable countries to lift or modify measures, in accordance with the WHO guidelines.