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Travelers arrive for flights at Newark Liberty International Airport on Nov. 30. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Tuesday advised those 60 or older and other vulnerable people to postpone travel plans in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Driving the news: The WHO said on Monday that the Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk and may be more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

  • Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

What they're saying: People "who are unwell or at risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying" should delay their travel plans, the WHO said.

  • People 60 or older or those with comorbidities such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes are considered at risk.
  • The WHO also urged countries to "continue to apply an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures," but urged against "blanket travel bans," which it said "will not prevent the international spread."

The big picture: The WHO's guidance comes as countries worldwide rush to implement measures to respond to the Omicron variant, including travel restrictions.

  • The U.S. has restricted air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi due to concerns over the variant.
  • Similar restrictions have been announced by countries in Europe and Asia.

The bottom line: The WHO urged all travelers to "to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, to get vaccinated when it is their turn and to adhere to public health and social measures at all times and regardless of vaccination status, including by using masks appropriately, respecting physical distancing."

Go deeper: Omicron dashboard

Go deeper

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.