Nicola Sturgeon calls for tighter travel restrictions as omicron “spreads in the community”

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TThe World Health Organization needs reliable funding with larger donations from member states, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Countries should increase their funding to the World Health Organization, Merkel said.

Merkel, who is due to step down as German leader in the coming weeks, was speaking at a special WHO assembly, where its 194 member states are discussing whether to start negotiations on an agreement on the pandemic. She said the UN agency needed reliable funding. “The catastrophic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of health and economy should serve as a lesson to us,” she said by video message.

“Viruses do not know national borders. This is precisely why we must establish measures to be taken to improve prevention, early detection and response in a binding way at the international level.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the assembly that the new omicron variant underlined “how perilous and precarious our situation is” and called for a “legally binding” agreement.

“Indeed, omicron demonstrates why the world needs a new pandemic deal.”

He also said that many uncertainties remain about the transmission and severity of infection with highly mutated omicron. “We don’t yet know if omicron is associated with more transmission, more serious disease, more risk of infections, or more risk of evading vaccines,” he said.

Dr Tedros added that South Africa and Botswana should be commended and not “penalized” for telling the world about the variant. “Our current system deters countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” he said.


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