Apply risk-based approach when implementing travel measures: WHO tells nations on new Covid variant

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The World Health Organization will evaluate whether it constitutes a variant of interest or a variant of concern, amd will share then further guidance for governments on action they can take,

Instead of hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the new B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised countries to a “risk-based and scientific approach”. “At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva, adding, “The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures.”

The WHO, which has convened an experts’ meeting on Friday (November 25) to evaluate whether it constitutes a variant of interest or a variant of concern, will share further guidance for governments on action they can take, he said. It will take a few weeks to understand the variant’s impact, and researchers are working to determine how transmissible it is and how it will affect therapeutics and vaccines, he added.

Also read: COVID-19’s new variant leaves world in a tizzy – here’s all we know

Instructions will be issued to the countries after the meeting. Research is going on in 100 genome sequences and WHO is also studying how effective existing drugs and vaccines are on the virus. At present, the world health body advises that people should complete their vaccine doses – that is the first line of defence. WHO said that there are many mutations in the new variant and more research is needed to understand the impact, which can take up to 5-6 weeks.

(With inputs from Ambarish Pandey and Reuters)

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