Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON – THE World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to lift travel bans and not ask for vaccination proof, according to a story published Thursday by the online publication wionnews.com.

It further said that the State parties should consider a risk-based approach to the “facilitation of international travel by lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, when appropriate”.

The WHO statement comes despite the fast-spreading Omricon variant of the novel coronavirus, which has again placed burden on hospitals across the globe. However, additional travel restrictions have been placing another burden on tourism-dependent countries which took a heavy hit at the onset of the virus in 2020.

“The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit the international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time. Travel measures should be based on risk assessments and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR [International Health Regulations],” wionnews.com quoted the world health body as saying in a statement.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had earlier warned global leaders that the novel coronavirus pandemic “is nowhere near over”, adding that the Omicron variant is causing hospitalisations and deaths the world over.

“Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities,” Tedros said.

He added: “Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading, hurts the overall response, and costs more lives.”

He also cautioned global leaders that “with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge, which is why tracking and assessment remain critical”.

The suggestion of the lifting of travel bans, however, is a signal that COVID-19 will be around for some time, but constant lockdowns will continue to hurt world economies, especially those heavily dependent on tourism.