World Health Organization recommends people 60 and over postpone travel due to omicron variant issues
As the omicron variant raises questions and concerns around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it is advising some to postpone their travel plans.
In a press release published on Tuesday, the WHO stressed that the omicron variant is still under study and that the new variant of concern carries a high number of mutations, compared to earlier strains of COVID-19. As health officials continue to monitor the situation, the WHO has advised people to get vaccinated, respect social distancing and wear masks.
Some people have also been encouraged not to travel, with the WHO saying that “people who are not doing well or who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying, including those 60 years of age or older or those at risk of with co-morbidities (eg heart disease, cancer and diabetes), should be advised to postpone the trip.
This is the first age-specific recommendation from a health agency since omicron was declared a variant of concern Last week. People aged 60 and over have been systematically targeted throughout the pandemic because they are at higher risk of serious illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 65 to 74 account for 21% of all deaths in the United States from COVID-19. This percentage increases with increasing demographics, with those aged 75 to 84 accounting for 26% of all deaths in the United States and those 85+ accounting for 28%.
Several countries have quickly implemented travel bans for international travelers from southern African countries and other regions where cases of omicron have been reported, since the WHO announced that omicron was a worrying variant. This includes President Biden, who announced travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries.
WHO expects the omicron variant to be detected worldwide and, in response, countries should implement safety measures such as testing passengers before travel and upon their return for COVID-19 and establish the necessary quarantine rules.
However, at the same time, the WHO has said general travel bans will not prevent the international spread of the new variant. Travel bans create a burden on individuals and families and can negatively impact global health efforts during a pandemic, discouraging countries from reporting and sharing data on the virus.
In a separate technical paper released on Monday, WHO recommended that vaccination efforts be “stepped up” for all eligible populations. The continued use of masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing have also been recommended, as variants continue to emerge throughout the pandemic.
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