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GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the new B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19, saying they should take a "risk-based and scientific approach".

"At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva. "The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures."

Covid-19 toll tops 1.5 million in Europe: AFP tally

The WHO, which has convened an experts' meeting on Friday to evaluate whether it constitutes a variant of interest or a variant of concern, will share further guidance for governments on action they can take, he said.

It will take a few weeks to understand the variant's impact, and researchers are working to determine how transmissible it is and how it will affect therapeutics and vaccines, he added.

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