Doctors' body OMAG wants ban on international flights

Doctors' body OMAG wants ban on international flights in wake of Omicron variant

Passengers wait to board flights, amidst the spread of the Omicron variant, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: Reuters File Photo

With the Omicron variant emerging as a big cause of concern, the Organized Medicine Academic Guild (OMAG), a professional body of doctors, has called for a complete ban on international flights to contain spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

OMAG said that there has to be a sense of urgency to tackle the emerging situation.

“There should be a complete travel ban from other countries by halting international traffic/flights, not merely from those coming from South Africa, Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong. We had already made that mistake at the beginning of the pandemic banning selective flights, only from China, Thailand and Singapore,” OMAG Secretary General Dr IS Gilada and President Dr Suneela Garg said. 

Also Read | Omicron Covid-19 variant brings low vaccination rates into focus: Report

Dr Gilada suggested: “Escalate Covid-19 vaccination further to complete second doses at the earliest. For this the gap between two doses of Covishield needs to be reduced, vaccine hesitancy of any sort has to be addressed, ZyCovD approved for 12-17 age group should be operationalised, different approved vaccines stuck for various reasons should be brought on platter and supply-chain mechanism should be streamlined. Approve vaccines for children to start immunisation of children with successful ones.”

He said that India must supply vaccines to poor and middle-income countries, especially those in Africa, as their vaccination is below 5 per cent. “Only India can do this and let us take that credit. If we fail, we are inviting more and more mutations and not only risking the countries of origin but ourselves too,” he said.

Speaking about the possible threat from Omicron, he said: “If we recall the recent history, Delta variant or B.1.617 that originated from Amravati in Maharashtra as double mutant E484Q and L452R, with just 1 per cent presence in Covid-19 cases in India in January 2021, had gone to capture 99 per cent by June 2021 in India and had spread to over 100 countries by August 2021."

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