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U.S. tightens COVID-19 journey guidelines as international locations race to quell Omicron risk

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WASHINGTON/TOKYO, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Air travellers to the US will face harder COVID-19 testing guidelines, as a number of international locations moved to seal-off their borders amid heightened uncertainty across the virulence of the Omicron variant and its capability to dodge present vaccines.

In Asia-Pacific, Japan and Hong Kong stated they’d broaden journey curbs, whereas Australia braced for extra instances of the coronavirus variant after at the least two folks visited a number of areas in its largest metropolis whereas possible infectious.

In an try and stave off hasty border curbs, the World Well being Group (WHO) urged international locations to use “an evidence-informed and risk-based method” to journey measures, saying “blanket journey bans is not going to stop the worldwide unfold, they usually place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods”.

Traders remained on edge on Wednesday, whilst monetary markets got here off lows plumbed a day earlier following remarks by the CEO of Moderna that raised questions in regards to the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines towards Omicron.

International well being officers have since supplied reassurances and reiterated requires folks to get vaccinated.

“Even when the brand new variant turns into extra widespread, the vaccines we’ve will proceed to offer safety,” European Medicines Company Government Director Emer Cooke stated.

Laboratory analyses ought to point out over the following two weeks whether or not the blood of vaccinated folks has enough antibodies to neutralise the brand new variant, Cooke stated, echoing remarks by vaccine maker BioNTech and scientists.

Learn extra: Omicron poses “very excessive” international threat, world should put together -WHO

BioNTech’s CEO stated the vaccine it makes in a partnership with Pfizer would possible provide sturdy safety towards extreme illness from Omicron.

Britain and the US have each pushed their booster programmes in response to the brand new variant.

First reported in southern Africa per week in the past, Omicron has triggered international alarm, roiled markets, led to journey bans, and highlighted the disparity between large vaccination pushes in wealthy nations and sparse inoculation within the growing world.

Some 56 international locations had been reportedly implementing journey measures to protect towards Omicron as of Nov. 28, the WHO stated.

“I properly perceive the priority of all international locations to guard their residents towards a variant that we don’t but totally perceive,” WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated.

“However I’m equally involved that a number of member states are introducing blunt, blanket measures that aren’t evidence-based or efficient on their very own, and which can solely worsen inequities,” Ghebreyesus added.

BORDER CONTROLS

America is shifting to require that every one air travellers coming into the nation present a damaging COVID-19 take a look at carried out inside sooner or later of departure, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) stated late on Tuesday.

Presently, vaccinated worldwide travellers can current a damaging outcome obtained inside three days from their level of departure. The brand new one-day testing requirement would apply to U.S. residents in addition to international nationals.

The administration can also be contemplating whether or not to require air travellers to get one other take a look at inside three to 5 days after arrival, officers stated.

Whereas the CDC didn’t verify that, it famous it continues to suggest all “travellers ought to get a COVID-19 viral take a look at 3-5 days after arrival” and “post-travel quarantine for any unvaccinated travellers”.

The CDC lists about 80 international locations as having “Stage 4”, its highest stage of COVID-19 transmission, and discourages People from travelling to these locations.

In Asia, Japan, which had already shut its borders to all newly coming into foreigners, stated it could broaden its ban to foreigners with resident standing from 10 African international locations together with South Africa.

Learn extra: Officers provide vaccine reassurance; WHO advises towards journey bans

Hong Kong will broaden its entry ban for non-residents to a few extra international locations, Japan, Portugal and Sweden, from Friday.

South Korean Inside and Security Minister Jeon Hae-cheol known as for tighter virus prevention measures to move off Omicron, after suspected instances entered from Nigeria.

The nation, which reported a day by day file of over 5,000 COVID-19 instances, has not detected any confirmed instances of the Omicron variant up to now.

International airways are getting ready for contemporary volatility, analysts stated, as Omicron might power them to regulate schedules and locations at brief discover.

“It feels a little bit bit like we’re again to the place we had been a 12 months in the past and that’s not an amazing prospect for the business and past,” Deidre Fulton, a accomplice at consultancy MIDAS Aviation, stated at an business webinar.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Sakura Murakami and Elaine Lies in Tokyo, Reju Jose and Jamie Freed in Sydney, and Reuters bureaus; Writing by Himani Sarkar; Modifying by Shri Navratnam)

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