Masks recommended on long flights amid new COVID variant spread: WHO

Canada Global (Web News) COVID-19 Omicron subvariant’s rapid spread in the United States, countries should think about advising travellers to wear masks on long-haul flights, according to World Health Organization (WHO) officials on Tuesday.

According to WHO/Europe authorities at a press briefing, the XBB.1.5 subvariant is being found in Europe in a small but growing number of cases.

People travelling from anywhere where there is significant COVID-19 transmission should be encouraged to use masks in high-risk situations such as long-haul flights, according to Catherine Smallwood, the WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe.

According to US health officials, XBB.1.5, the most contagious Omicron subvariant to date, was responsible for 27.6% of COVID-19 cases in the country for the week ending January 7.

If XBB.1.5 spreads globally on its own, it has not yet been determined. According to specialists, current vaccines continue to offer protection against serious symptoms, hospitalisation, and death.

Smallwood continued, “Countries need to look at the evidence base for pre-departure testing,” stressing the importance of avoiding a narrow geographic focus.

“Our position is that travel measures should be enforced in a non-discriminatory manner,” she stated when action was being discussed.

She continued by saying that at this point, the FDA does not propose testing for travellers arriving from the United States.

As long as it does not syphon resources away from domestic surveillance systems, measures like genetic surveillance and targeting travellers arriving from other nations are permissible. A few more are wastewater monitoring systems installed close to points of entry, like airports.

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