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WTO postpones key ministers meeting over omicron variant

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) indefinitely postponed a meeting of its members’ ministers on Friday over the new COVID-19 variant omicron. 

The WTO announced the decision late on Friday saying new travel restrictions due to new COVID-19 variants “would have prevented many ministers from reaching Geneva.” 

“Given these unfortunate developments and the uncertainty that they cause, we see no alternative but to propose to postpone the Ministerial Conference and reconvene it as soon as possible when conditions allow,” General Council Chair Dacio Castillo of Honduras said in the announcement.

“I trust that you will fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation,” he added, noting 

“This has not been an easy recommendation to make,” Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, adding “my priority is the health and safety of all MC12 participants – ministers, delegates and civil society. It is better to err on the side of caution.”

The meeting, scheduled for next week, would have been the first meeting of the ministers in four years, according to Reuters. Among the items at the top of the agenda were curbing fishing subsidies and expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting Friday regarding the new coronavirus variant found in South Africa. The strain, named omicron, was labeled a “variant of concern” (VOC).

Tags coronavirus travel restrictions omicron WTO

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