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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Will flight restrictions help when a new virus variant emerges?

A new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa has triggered a new round of travel restrictions, as many people finally began to ease.

The risks of a type called Omicron are largely unknown. But the World Health Organization has called it “a sort of concern” and governments around the world can’t wait to better understand the variants for scientists to impose flight restrictions and other travel restrictions.

On Friday, EU countries agreed to ban travel from southern Africa to counter its spread. The 27-nation bloc acted within hours on advice from the EU executive, which said all countries needed to be extra vigilant in dealing with the variant until it became clear how serious the threat was. .

The UK also banned flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries and announced that anyone who has recently arrived from those countries will be asked to take a coronavirus test.

The move has sparked a debate over whether flight restrictions and other travel restrictions work to stop the spread of new forms. Some say it may be time for new public health measures to implement the restrictions. At the very least, they do little to stop the spread and give a false sense of security.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it strongly discourages imposing travel restrictions on people arriving from countries where the variant was reported.

Do travel restrictions slow the spread of the virus?

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said they could give countries more time to accelerate vaccination and introduce other measures such as masking and social distancing, but are highly unlikely to prevent the entry of new variants. .

“Travel restrictions may delay but not stop the spread of the highly permeable variant,” he said.

Johns Hopkins University infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja says travel restrictions only give the public a false sense of security and “knee-jerk” reactions by public officials should be stopped. Adalja said imposing sanctions makes politicians “feel like they’re doing something” but it doesn’t make sense when countries now have countermeasures like rapid testing and vaccines.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, told a local news agency that he does not believe the travel ban will have any major impact, other than in countries with direct flights to the affected areas.

“Keeping track of all the travel flow is basically impossible,” Tegnell told Expression newspaper.

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Could it be different this time?

Jeffrey Barrett, director of COVID-19 genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, thought that early detection of the new variant could mean that the restrictions imposed now would have a bigger impact than when the delta variant first emerged.

“The surveillance in South Africa and other surrounding countries is so good that they found it (the new version), understood it was a problem and told the world about it very quickly,” he said. “We may be at an earlier point with this new version, so there may still be time to do something about it.”

However, Barrett said harsher sanctions would be counter-productive and that South African officials should not be penalized for alerting the world to the new version. “They have served the world and we should help them, not punish them for that.”

What does science say?

Sharon Peacock, who leads UK genetic sequencing at the University of Cambridge, said any decision to restrict travel was a political decision, not a scientific one. She emphasized that there was still a lot of uncertainty about the new variant, including whether it is actually more contagious or deadly. Although some of the mutations detected seemed worrying, she said there is still no evidence that the new variant is more lethal or transmissible than the previous versions.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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