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COVID-19 Omicron travel warning: 60 or over? Postpone your international holiday plans, WHO warns

·2-min read

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released advice for travel amid concerns about the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

One core piece of advice is that individuals who are 60 and older, those who are not fully vaccinated and individuals at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness should "postpone travel to areas with community transmission."

The WHO also advises national authorities to implement measures, including screening of passengers prior to travel and on arrival, to "potentially delay and/or reduce the exportation or importation of the new variant."

"These measures, nonetheless, need to be defined following a thorough risk assessment process informed by the local epidemiology in departure and destination countries and by the health system and public health capacities in the countries of departure, transit and arrival," the advice from the WHO reads.

The information from the WHO also stresses that "blanket travel bans" will not prevent the spread of the COVID-19 but "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," the guidance reads. "All countries should ensure that the measures are regularly reviewed and updated when new evidence becomes available on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Omicron or any other VOC [variants of concern]."

Canada has implemented a flight ban for foreign nationals travelling to Canada from 10 countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

Any travellers who have been in the 10 countries on the flight ban in the past 14 days are required to quarantine at a hotel when they initially arrive in Canada.

Canada will require all international travellers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated (except from the United States), to be tested at the airport where they land. They will then need to isolate until they get the result of their test.

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