As the newly discovered omicron variant of the coronavirus becomes a global concern, the World Health Organization has advised people at high risk of infection not to travel to areas with high levels of community spread.
“Persons who are unwell, or who have not been fully vaccinated or do not have proof of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and are at increased risk of developing severe disease and dying, including people 60 years of age and older or those with comorbidities that present increased risk of severe COVID-19 (heart disease, cancer and diabetes) should be advised to postpone travel to areas with community transmission,” the WHO said in a statement.
WHO advises nations to use a “multi-layered risk mitigation approach” to reducing the spread including passenger screening, coronavirus testing and quarantines.
However, the organization discouraged across-the-board travel bans, saying such measures may actually influence nations to underreport cases of the variant to avoid being ostracized.
The omicron variant, first reported in South Africa late last month, hasn’t yet been determined to be any more virulent or contagious than other strains of the virus, though its high number of mutations and possible ability to evade vaccines has concerned health officials worldwide.
The first case of the variant in the U.S. was reported Wednesday in California, with a second confirmed in Minnesota on Thursday.