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WHO director warns against restarting international travel with progress against pandemic remaining ‘fragile’

A World Health Organization director has issued a warning against resuming international travel, claiming that progress against Covid-19 is still “fragile.”

On Thursday, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s European director, encouraged people to ‘exercise caution’ and reconsider international travel, saying that ‘pockets of increasing transmission’ on the continent could quickly spread.

Kluge said during his weekly press conference that the so-called Indian variant, which could be more transmissible, has been identified in at least 26 of the 53 countries in WHO Europe.

It arises after passengers arriving at London Heathrow Airport faced three-hour lines this week, prompting calls for UK arrivals from nations on the’red list’ to be divided from those arriving from other nations.

As nations begin to roll out the Covid-19 vaccines, Kluge cautioned people not to become ‘blinded by the light,’ arguing that people still need to be cautious.

‘Right now, in the face of a persistent threat and new uncertainty, we must exercise caution and reconsider or avoid international travel,’ he added.

He was quick to point out, however, that all Covid-19 variants, including the new Indian strain, have been successfully vaccinated with approved vaccines.

Kluge also claimed that all virus variants can be controlled using the same public health and social measures that have been in place up to this point.

‘All Covid-19 virus variants that have surfaced thus far respond to available endorsed vaccines,’ he explained.

The weekly number of new Covid cases fell by 60% in a month in the WHO’s Europe region, which includes parts of Central Asia, from 1.7 million in mid-April to 685,000 last week.

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