- WHO says border controls only 'buy time'
- Five U.S. states find cases of Omicron variant
- BoE takes wait-and-see approach to raising rates
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to boost healthcare capacity and vaccinate their people to fight a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant, saying that travel curbs could buy time but alone were not the answer.
Despite shutting its borders to travel from high-risk southern African countries, Australia became the latest country to report community transmission of the new variant, a day after it was found in five U.S states.
Omicron has gained a foothold in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe and has reached seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, where it was first identified. Many governments have tightened travel rules to keep the variant out.
"Border controls can buy time but every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases," Takeshi Kasai, the WHO's western Pacific director, told a media briefing.
"People should not only rely on border measures. What is most important is to prepare for these variants with potential high transmissibility. So far the information available suggests we don't have to change our approach."
Kasai urged countries to fully vaccinate vulnerable groups and stick to preventive measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.