A British Columbia-based researcher says banning travelers to southern African countries in an effort to stop the importation of a new COVID-19 variant is an example of “wishful thinking” that could do more harm than good.
Carolyn Collijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist at Simon Fraser University, says the omicron variant has already been detected in countries outside the target area, and it was a matter of time before it was found in Canada.
She says South Africa should be commended for sequencing the Omicron variant and sharing its data with the rest of the world.
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Collision says she worries countries like Canada, which responded by imposing travel restrictions on southern African countries, risk discouraging that kind of transparency in the future.
Zayn Chagla, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, agrees that “closing the borders” doesn’t make sense.
He says the Omicron variant suggests that it is time for a more coordinated Granthshala response to the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on ensuring that everyone in every country has adequate access to vaccines.