The World Health Organization has said those who are not fully vaccinated and who are vulnerable to Covid-19, including those over 60, should delay their travel to areas of community transmission as more and more countries have imposed restrictions to combat the spread of the new Omicron variant.
The measures came as the WHO said the “blanket bans” would not contain the strain of the virus which it said had previously warned to pose a “very high” risk globally.
The United States will require stricter coronavirus border testing for all travelers, including returning Americans, amid concerns over the Omicron variant.
US authorities will require anyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding a flight, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Administration officials are also considering requiring all travelers to be retested within three to five days of arrival. Currently, those who are fully vaccinated can have a test done within three days of boarding.
The move is part of a heightened Covid winter strategy that the Biden administration plans to announce on Thursday.
From Wednesday, a vaccination will be compulsory for trips inside and outside of Canada.
Japan said he would extend his travel ban to foreigners entering the country to prevent those with resident status from 10 African countries from entering the country “for the time being.”
Singapore said on Wednesday it would require mandatory PCR testing for all travelers and additional rapid antigen testing for travelers on vaccinated traffic lanes.
All travelers entering or passing through the city-state after Thursday, December 2 must undergo a pre-departure test within 2 days of leaving for Singapore and test negative. All travelers entering Singapore must undergo a Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival.
Hong Kong will extend its entry ban for non-residents to three other countries, Japan, Portugal and Sweden, from Friday, authorities said on Wednesday, while Indonesia has added Hong Kong to its list of travel bans alongside several African countries.
Scientists are rushing to determine the level of threat Omicron poses to the world, a week after it was first detected in South Africa. Cases have since been discovered in countries in North America, Asia and Europe. Nigeria confirmed its first cases on Wednesday. While it’s not clear what level of protection vaccines can provide, the WHO has issued a warning against travel to potential Covid hot spots for unvaccinated vulnerable people.
“People who have not been fully vaccinated or who have no evidence of previous infection with Sars-CoV-2 and who are at increased risk of developing serious illness and dying, including those older than 60 years or older or those with comorbidities with an increased risk of severe Covid-19 … should be advised to postpone travel to areas of community transmission. “
WHO has also said blanket travel bans “will not prevent international spread and place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.” He added that the bans can have other negative effects, including discouraging countries from sharing epidemiological data.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was understandable for countries to seek to protect their citizens “against a variant that we do not yet fully understand”.
But he called for the global response to be “calm, coordinated and coherent”, urging nations to “take rational and proportionate harm reduction measures”.
The head of the European Union’s medical agency said on Tuesday that it would take two weeks to find out whether current vaccines against Covid-19 would be able to cope.
The variant emerged as much of the northern hemisphere was already bracing for another winter wave of the pandemic – leaving even countries with high vaccination rates struggling to contain the growing number of infections and cut off services. of health from being overwhelmed.
Governments, especially in Western Europe, have already reintroduced mandatory face masks, social distancing measures, curfews or closures – leaving businesses to fear another bleak Christmas.
Greece moved forward on Tuesday by making vaccines mandatory for those over 60, while Norway will offer reminders to all adults before Easter, as preferable to containment. Britain has set a goal of delivering a third jab to all adults within two months.
But as the sidewalks returned to many parts of the world, the Pacific Island of Fiji on Wednesday ended 615 days of international isolation and reopened to tourists.
Traditional dancers in grass skirts greeted holidaymakers by saluting Australia, the first of an expected flood of desperately needed tourists in the weeks to come.
Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said it was a “momentary” opportunity, where tourism accounts for around 40% of the economy.
“The reopening of the international border will boost Fiji’s economy,” he told reporters.
With Agence-France Presse and Reuters