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WHO Advises Unvaccinated Over-60 Travelers to Stay Home

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: European Parliament

As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 begins to spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges unvaccinated individuals aged 60 or over to avoid travel to “to areas with community transmission”.

WHO issued the guidance on Tuesday, advising against travel for seniors 60 or older who have not been vaccinated against Covid or have not been infected.

“Persons who have not been fully vaccinated or do not have proof of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and are at increased risk of developing severe disease and dying, including people 60 years of age or older or those with comorbidities that present increased risk of severe Covid-19 (eg heart disease, cancer and diabetes), should be advised to postpone travel to areas with community transmission.”

In its statement, the WHO condemns “blanket travel bans”, noting that essential travel should continue with stringent measures and vigilance.

After WHO named Omicron a “variant of concern” last week, at least 56 countries introduced travel restrictions many of which banned travel from African nations.

Instead of travel bans, the WHO suggests essential international travelers be prioritized. Other travelers should “remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of Covid-19, to get vaccinated when it is their turn and to adhere to public health and social measures at all times and regardless of vaccination status”, it says.

At the same time, the World Health Organization is leaving it up to each country individually to assess its own risk and implement relevant measures including screening passengers for the virus and requiring quarantine for international travelers found to be infected. 

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that all citizens 60 or over must be vaccinated or face a 100-euro fine as part of the government’s latest effort to stem the spread of Covid-19 without going into lockdown.

Meanwhile, US and UK authorities are considering tightening travel restrictions and testing requirements in view of an imminent fourth wave of Covid and the fast spread of Omicron.

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