Omicron shows the danger of treating coronavirus like an emergency

Almost 21 months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared covid-19 a pandemic, the world is once again paralyzed by the emergence of a new, as yet somewhat unknown, variant. Omicron, which was first sequenced in South Africa, is believed to be extremely contagious, though not necessarily especially severe. Reports so far point to very mild cases that don’t require hospitalization.

Nevertheless, the covid-19 emergency machine kicked into full gear. The US banned travel from eight southern African countries, of which two, South Africa and Botswana, have reported cases. The EU, Japan, Canada, and others are expected to replicate the approach, despite the fact that the benefits of travel bans are temporary at best, and the global spread of covid-19 despite travel restrictions showed their limited efficacy.

But the true limits of the travel ban are in the thinking it betrays. It’s yet another example of treating covid-19 as an emergency, rather then the consequence of systemic issues.

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Originally published on Quartz : Original article

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