Daily Column – 2nd december 2021

Increased travel restrictions are being implemented by governments throughout the world as more cases of Omicron – the new highly mutated Covid variant  emerge, notably in the United States, in an attempt to curb the virus’s spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that it may require all air travellers entering the United States to provide proof of a negative Covid test within one day of departure (the current window for vaccinated international travellers to provide a negative test is three days). Also under consideration by the Biden administration is the possibility of requiring all people entering the nation to self-quarantine for seven days, no matter what their test results are.

All international travel from eight nations in southern Africa where Omicron was discovered has already been suspended by the United States and many other governments.
Several countries, such as Israel and Japan, have outlawed all foreign visitors entirely.
There has been a great deal of opposition.

While some governments argue that travel bans are a crucial instrument for buying more time and gathering more data on Omicron, the World Health Organization (WHO) dismisses this as nonsense. In their opinion, broad travel bans are ineffectual in curbing the spread of Omicron and unfairly punish the countries that have been targeted. Furthermore, the new version had already been spreading in Europe before it was discovered in southern Africa, thus the glitter had already been spilled before the discovery in southern Africa.

What does the scientific community have to say? There is little information available about the effectiveness of travel limits during Covid. One study found that blanket travel limits implemented early in the epidemic did have a positive effect on slowing the spread of the virus. An further study did not uncover much data to support this claim.

Researchers are more certain that other types of travel rules that the United States is considering, such as post-arrival testing and self-quarantining, will be effective in reducing the spread of Ebola in the country.

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