WHO Reacts As Countries Shut Borders Over Latest Covid Variant

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Friday, warned countries against rushing to impose a travel restrictions on other countries linked to the recent resurgence of a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529.

The caution is coming amid the travel restrictions issued by the United Kingdom, European Union, Israel, Singapore, among others.

On 25 November 2021, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa announced the detection of a new variant of COVID-19 labelled as B.1.1.529.

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Though it is still early days, the new variant has a long list of mutations and has been described by scientist as “horrific” and the worst variant.

So far, most of the cases of the new variant have been confirmed in South Africa.

The EU, UK Israel and Singapore are on list of countries that have placed South Africa and other countries in the southern part of Africa on the red list.

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Following travel restrictions imposed on South Africa, the WHO has urged European countries to rather take a “risk-based and scientific approach.”

The International organisation said this shortly after holding a closed-door experts’ meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Addressing a press conference, Communications Officer, WHO, Christian Lindmeier said the organisation has begun to assess the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 and to designate it as either a variant of interest or a variant of concern.

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“At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against. The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures,” Lindmeier said.

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