December 2, 2021

WHO advises 60+ to postpone international travel

categories : tourism

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that people above 60 years of age or those with comorbidities that present increased risk of severe Covid-19 (e.g. heart disease, cancer and diabetes) should postpone travel to areas with community transmission.

The new guidance was issued as part of the WHO’s updated travel advice in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.

'All travellers should be reminded to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of Covid-19, to get vaccinated when it is their turn and to adhere to public health and social measures at all times and regardless of vaccination status, including by using masks appropriately, respecting physical distancing, following good respiratory etiquette and avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated spaces,' it said.

'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,' the advice said.

WHO commends South Africa and Botswana for the speed and transparency with which they notified and shared information on Omicron, allowing other countries to rapidly adjust their response, it said.

While scientific research is underway to understand how the variant behaves, WHO advises the following:

• Countries should continue to apply an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures in accordance with the IHR.

• National authorities may apply a multi-layered risk mitigation approach to potentially delay the exportation or importation of the new variant.

• 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.



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