WHO Reiterates that Travel Restrictions Do Not Prevent Imports of Virus

AKP Phnom Penh, February 29, 2020 —
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reiterated that travel restrictions imposed by dozens of countries do not prevent COVID-19 from being imported.
In its daily report on the outbreak issued in Geneva on Friday, WHO said 41 countries had reported restrictions that “significantly interfere with international traffic” by causing delays of more than 24 hours.
Most restrictions involve denying entry to travelers from China or countries with ongoing transmissions as well as quarantining foreigners, self-isolating returning nationals and restricting visas.
“The public health rationale for these additional health measures is mainly linked to vulnerabilities,” the report said. These include low diagnostic and response capacity, the context of small island states and “uncertainties about the virus transmission and disease severity,” it added.
“Preliminary analysis of countries reporting cases that have imposed restrictive measures suggest that such measures may have delayed the importation of new cases, but did not prevent the importation of the disease.
“WHO has emphasised to Member States that additional measures should be proportionate to the public health risk, short in duration, and reconsidered in light of the evolution of the outbreak and the constant advancements of knowledge about the virus and the disease,” it said.
The UN agency said it continues to “recommend against the application of any travel or trade restrictions” while engaging with travel and tourism organisations to avoid “unnecessary interference” with international traffic.
In a separate development Friday, the UN agency said it had started classifying routes of transmission for countries outside China.
In the Western Pacific, countries with local transmissions are Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Vietnam.
Countries in the region with imported cases only are Cambodia, the Philippines and New Zealand.
By Sao Da