Indefinite travel ban is futile, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said international travel ban cannot stay in place indefinitely, and countries should do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus within their borders. A surge of infections had prompted countries to reimpose some travel restrictions in recent days.

Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world manage to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a virtual news briefing on Monday.

“Where these measures are followed, cases are going down,” he said, praising Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for controlling outbreaks.

WHO Emergencies Programme head Mike Ryan said travel bans were not sustainable in the long run. “It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume,” he said. said that the UN health body’s emergency committee would convene to re-examine the declaration that the outbreak constituted a “public health emergency of international concern

“When I declared a public health emergency of international concern on the 30th of January … there were less than 100 cases outside of China, and no deaths,” Tedros said.

But since then, the case numbers have soared past 16 million, with close to 650,000 deaths around the world. “COVID-19 has changed our world. It has brought people, communities and nations together, and driven them apart,” Tedros said.

The WHO has faced criticism from certain quarters for its response, with some charging it acted too slowly – an accusation the organisation denies.