The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), scheduled to begin on Tuesday at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, was expected to address important issues such as the long-awaited Agreement on Fisheries Support, which is seen as an important tool to prevent massive global fishing. .
The meeting was also set to discuss efforts to waive patents and other intellectual protections associated with covid-19 vaccines, according to the Associated Press.
Representatives of the World Trade Organization’s 164 member states agreed to postpone the four-day conference, after implementing new restrictions on travelers arriving in Switzerland.
Without all the participants being able to attend in person, an online meeting was called off, revealed a source in the organization who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The Swiss health authority said on Friday that all direct flights from South Africa are banned, as well as for travelers from other parts of South Africa and also from Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel, countries where the new alternative has already been discovered.
Travelers from these countries must test negative for covid-19 and undergo a ten-day quarantine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has today classified the new B.1.1.529 variant of the covid-19 coronavirus as “alarming”, which was first detected in South Africa.
According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant contains “a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern”. The agency said in a statement that preliminary data indicated an “increased risk of reinfection” with this strain compared to other strains of concern.
South African officials at the World Trade Organization are leading the fight to water down patents and other intellectual property on tools designed to combat the pandemic, such as vaccines, tests or treatments, with the goal of making them available to all.
Many European countries, including EU member states, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, opposed this idea, arguing that it could stifle innovation.
Concerns about the new covid-19 variant dragged stock markets down on Friday amid fears of broader economic impacts amid travel restrictions.
Covid-19 has caused at least 5,180,276 deaths worldwide, among the more than 259.46 million new coronavirus infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest report from Agence France-Presse.
The disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which was discovered in late 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
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