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WHO/Europe backs travel checks from U.S. given spread of latest Omicron variant


Passengers walk through the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London’s Heathrow Airport, Britain, August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Given the rapid spread of the latest offshoot of the Omicron variant – XBB.1.5 – in the United States, WHO Regional Office for Europe officials on Tuesday recommended travel measures be implemented in a “non-discriminatory” manner.

That is not to say that “we recommend testing of patient of passengers coming from the U.S. at this stage. Countries need to look at the evidence base for pre-departure testing”, WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told a news briefing.

Passengers should be recommended to wear masks in high-risk settings such as long-haul flights, she added, “this should be a recommendation issued to passengers arriving from anywhere where there is widespread COVID-19 transmission”.