Industry Update
External Article22 June 2020

WHO Should Change Rules That Led It To Oppose Travel Restrictions, Ex-Head Says

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization should change guidelines that led it to oppose travel restrictions early in the coronavirus epidemic, said former WHO chief Gro Harlem Brundtland, who now chairs an independent watchdog that monitors the global body.

The WHO's decision to oppose travel restrictions when it declared an international emergency on Jan. 30 has been one of the steps criticised by the United States, which has announced it will quit the U.N. agency.

Brundtland, speaking to a briefing on Friday, strongly opposed the U.S. decision to quit the WHO. But she acknowledged a need to look at the guidelines, known as the International Health Regulations, agreed by member states years earlier and which discourage restricting trade and travel during epidemics.

The guidelines "need reform and we will propose reforms because we have seen weaknesses very clearly," Brundtland said. "In the whole process of formulating and agreeing on the International Health Regulations, many countries were adamant to try to avoid air and travel restrictions."

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