WHO backs mask-wearing on long flights amid U.S. spread of Omicron variant

Written by on January 10, 2023

World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday advised that countries should consider recommending passengers wear masks on long haul flights.


WHO said this was to counter the latest Omicron sub variant of COVID-19 given its rapid spread in the U.S.


In a news conference in Europe, WHO officials said the XBB.1.5 sub variant is being detected in small but growing numbers.


WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said passengers should be recommended to wear masks in high-risk settings such as long-haul flights.


U.S. health officials however said that the XBB.1.5 sub-variant, the most transmissible Omicron sub-variant that has been detected so far accounted for 27.6 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. for the week ending Jan. 7.


However, experts said it remains unclear if XBB.1.5 will cause its own wave of infections around the world.


She said the current vaccines continue to protect against severe symptoms, hospitalisation and death.

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