How effective are travel bans during a Pandemic?

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Here’s why experts say travel bans implemented to protect us from COVID-19 aren’t as effective as they could be.

Experts say that travel bans may not be as effective against slowing the spread of COVID-19 as we’d hope.

Travel bans also have other flaws, including their disruption to people’s lives and the economy.

Experts say travel bans may not make much of a difference unless they’re implemented at the right time.

Travel bans during the COVID-19 pandemic have been controversial, with some alleging racism in how they’re implemented.

The current travel ban is no exception — it’s been criticized as being unfairly punitive to the countries involved.

In addition, there have been questions about whether travel bans even work. Just how effective are travel bans, what are their flaws, and are they worth it despite these problems?

We asked Daniel Tisch, PhD, who specializes in public health with the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, as well as Susan Hassig, DrPH, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, to weigh in.
How effective are travel bans?

Tisch said that travel bans have the potential to prevent the introduction of a new communicable disease in an area where it hasn’t yet been transmitted.

“Travel restrictions are not likely to be completely effective at preventing the introduction of a communicable disease,” he said. “But, there is evidence in some situations they may slow the introduction and spread of transmission for a period of time.”

But travel bans don’t work in all situations, he said. “Travel restrictions combined with a comprehensive public health strategy are most likely to succeed, especially in locations that can maintain more stringent entry controls, like Australia and New Zealand,” Tisch said.

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