Vaccination, not travel restriction
Vaccination, not travel restriction

The WHO officials have stressed that border control will only buy time and all countries and communities must prepare for potential surges

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to enhance healthcare capacity and continue vaccination to fight any potential or ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases driven by Omicron, the newly emerged variant. The UN body pointed out that travel restrictions could only buy time, but it is not the answer. We could not agree more.

WHO’s position appears to be the most sensible position to take. The Dhaka Tribune in recent days made the very same point about travel curbs and how to tackle potential new variants. Shutting borders clearly is not an effective strategy, as Australia has found out after it had closed borders to travel from high-risk southern African countries, and yet becoming the latest country to report community transmission of the new variant.

Unfortunately, Omicron has now effectively entered Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe. Bangladesh is not the only country to consider and implement travel curbs. Many other governments have also tightened travel rules to keep the new variant at bay, prompting WHO to now issue the latest recommendations. The WHO officials have stressed that border control will only buy time and all countries and communities must prepare for potential surges. The information available suggests that no new strategy need to be put in place to limit transmission, as the now-established health policies – which include masking and vaccination — are the most efficient ways for doing so.

The Bangladesh government must be pragmatic and look for solutions that are based on the best scientific evidence available. The government should reinvigorate its vaccination drive as well as boost healthcare capacity, as the WHO recommends. It is and remains the best course of action against the pandemic.

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