December 01. In the week since the new virus strain was reported by South Africa, dozens of countries around the world have responded with travel restrictions — most targeting southern African nations.
But the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that “blanket” travel bans risked doing more harm than good, just as Canada expanded its restrictions.
In a travel advisory, the WHO warned the bans could ultimately dissuade countries from sharing data about the evolving virus.
The new variant — whose high number of mutations the WHO believes may make it more transmissible or resistant to vaccines — was found in two Dutch test samples from November 19 and 23, with one having no travel history.
So far, well over a dozen countries and territories have detected cases, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy and Portugal.
Latin America reported its first two cases Tuesday — in people who travelled from South Africa to Brazil — and a first case was confirmed in Japan, one day after it barred all foreign arrivals.
While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant — it could take weeks to determine whether and to what extent it is vaccine-resistant — it has highlighted that the global fight against Covid-19 is far from over.