WHO issues fresh COVID-19 directive to travellers

WHO issues fresh COVID-19 directive to travellers

By Elsie Udoh

Although there has been a great relaxation in the COVID-19 prevention measures in many countries since its outbreak in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday advised that countries should consider recommending passengers wear masks on long-haul flights.

According to a report by the News Agency Of Nigeria (NAN), this directive was given to curb the outbreak of the sub-variant of the virus, Omicron which is reportedly spreading rapidly in the U.S.

Following the detection of the Omicron variant in growing numbers in Europe, the WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said passengers should be recommended to wear masks in high-risk settings such as long-haul flights.

“This should be a recommendation issued to passengers arriving from anywhere where there is widespread COVID-19 transmission,’’ she said.

Although it remains unclear if the sub-variant will cause its wave of infections around the world, Smallwood noted that “countries need to look at the evidence base for pre-departure testing” saying it was crucial to not be “blindsided” by an exclusive focus on one particular geographic area.

The Omicron variant has other sub-variants including the XBB.1.5, the most contagious variant of the virus causing COVID-19 that is now globally dominant. This variant was first detected in October 2022.


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