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WHO Calls for Caution About COVID-19 Variant Travel Bans |

Development on Friday happened as the World Health Organization (WHO) the group is prepared for a meeting to assess the potential impact of the new coronavirus option designated B 1.1.529.

According to WHO COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, information is limited so far.

“There are fewer than 100 genome-wide sequences available, we don’t know much about that yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations, and the concern is that when you have so many mutations it could affect the behavior of the virus, ”she said during a Q&A on Twitter.

Dr. Van Kerkhove explained that researchers are currently trying to determine where the mutations are. and what they potentially mean for diagnosis, treatment and vaccines.

“It will take us a few weeks to understand the impact of this option, and a lot of work is underway. This option is under surveillance. The Technical Advisory Group (WHO) will discuss whether this will be an option of interest or an option of concern, and if so, we will give it a Greek name, but it is worth watching, ”she added.

‘Do not discriminate’

The expert thanked researchers from South Africa and Botswana for the open exchange of information with the UN health agency.

“Everyone is there: don’t discriminate against countries that openly share their findings,” she urged, as countries such as the UK, France and Israel have refused direct flights from South Africa and neighboring countries.

According to South African health authoritieso far fewer than 100 cases of the new variant have been confirmed, mainly among young people, who have the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

“Countries already have a lot to do in terms of oversight and sequencing and work together with affected countries or globally and scientifically to tackle this option and better understand it so we know how to proceed … so at this stage, take action about travel is to be warned, ”WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.

A woman sews face masks for sale during the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa.

Photo by IMF / James Outway

A woman sews face masks for sale during the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa.

Protect yourself and others

WHO representatives recalled previous advice: there is much that people can do to protect themselves from COVID, including by continuing to wear masks and avoiding crowds.

“Everyone who is there should understand that the more this virus spreads, the more opportunities to change it, the more mutations we will see,” said Dr. Van Kerkhov.

“Get vaccinated when you can, make sure you get the full course of your doses, and make sure you take steps to reduce your risk of infection and prevent transmission of the virus to someone else,” she added.


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